Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Character planner

A Christian minister is like a financial planner for character. Rather than asking "what do you want to be doing in ten years' time?", she asks "in ten years' time, who do you want to be?"

And what can you start doing now to end up there?

14 comments:

michael jensen said...

Yuck, I hate that description. What are we, personal trainers for the soul?

Being a Christian is rejecting the self as a project, isn't it?

Sam Norton said...

Ah - but in contrast to Michael I think 'personal trainers for the soul' is quite a good description of what we are - soul doctors, curates and so on. I understand the need to make the description less ego-centric, but emphasising that character-building (ie shaping virtuous lives, by grace) is what we are about - that seems pretty good to me.

michael jensen said...

You'll be advocating 'spiritual directors' next!

Bruce Yabsley said...

A minister friend prefers the analogy of a "playing coach" in whatever team-sport you choose --- I assume the towel, the sweats, and the whistle are optional.

Does that go partway to addressing your concern, Michael? I quite liked that analogy, although I am too ignorant of classic teamsports to give it a ringing endorsement. (That is a reluctant acknowledgement, not a left-handed boast.)

byron smith said...

Michael - I was talking to a guy about his future plans and the first thing he mentioned was going to see a financial planner. My immediate thought in response was to wonder whether it mightn't be better to see a character planner.

Bruce - yes, the team analogy does have value in emphasising the for-others direction of virtue development.

byron smith said...

Being a Christian is rejecting the self as a project, isn't it?
Could you comment more on this in light of e.g. 2 Peter 1.3-10? Is it the ego-centric implication of such a project that riles you?

byron smith said...

Or is it the choose-your-adventure voluntarism of the way I phrased it? (which I was unhappy with even as I posted) Or both? Or something else?

michael jensen said...

yes, the voluntarism!
Partly it comes from the ambiguity of the word 'character': in 2 Peter 1:3-10, the person is to pursue certain qualities or virtues (if we must use this term), but there is no 'self' that the person must establish. If by character we mean 'self', then that's what gives me and Dietrich B the creeps.

Drew said...

Could it be the other way around?

Perhaps the trainers, planners, directors and mentors etc. are secularised spiritual projects that are indebted to Christian themes?

Rachel said...

thanks for this quote you've just inspired me for something I might do at work...

michael jensen said...

Well, Drew, actually: the American self-help movement - despite its love of eastern religion - has its roots in Arminian types of evangelicalism. Norman Vincent Peale, for example. Meself, I think this just proves that Arminian Christianity is on the wrong track!

Drew said...

Ahh! I knew an ism must be at fault at bottom ;)

byron smith said...

Drew - Could it be the other way around?
Could be a bit of both?

Rachel - watcha thinking?

MPJ - Do you think financial planners are part of the self-help movement?

Benjamin Ady said...

not in my experience. They're more likely to say "Here's who God (that is, "I") thinks you should be in ten years."