Uncommon Core

IMG_8049This week’s Time Magazine contained an article entitled Life’s Common Core.  The author, Kristin van Ogtrop, listed 10 things, pieces of advice really, to the class of 2015, that have nothing to do with getting into college and everything to do with becoming better people.  Included in her list was: writing a handwritten letter, spending a weekend without a phone, hold down a job that you don’t like, reading a book for fun, and writing a thank you note.

Year’s back I attended a class at a retreat taught by Randy Gariss.  The topic was living a whole life.  The class was based on an article he had written for Christian Standard listing 10 things a full and complete life, living out the Kingdom of God, holds.  Some of those listed were: a handful of Godly friends, solitude, a heart of worship, creativity, and service.

Jimmy Valvano gave his three things to a full life in his Espy speech that will forever be one of my favorites:

“To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”

The Times article got me thinking about what I would put into a checklist for a full life.  What would I consider the Common core for life?  It’s uncommon because it’s mine, but I feel like everyone needs some kind of central things that are essential to them being everything that God had created them to be.  I hope that this list is imparted through my life everyday to my students and everyday to the people that I come into contact with.

  1. Worship.  A thanksgiving to God for what He has accomplished in me and in this world.  Without this my days and life have no reference point and no compass.  It may be scripture, song, or sunrise, but worship, the mind being drawn to God’s activity and action needs to be central.
  2. Relationships.  I must, MUST, spend time with my wife and with friends who challenge, encourage, entertain, and bring joy into my life.  A day without these people is a day not fully lived with God’s purposes in mind.  Paul tells Timothy to come to him to make his joy complete (Phil. 2.2).  These people bring me joy daily.
  3. Pray.  Its only when this muscle is used when you understand the importance of it.  The days that start, flow, and end with prayer are radically set apart from days that aren’t.  Jesus, in Mark 1.35, rose early to pray.  I am not a naturally early riser, but the days when prayer is a priority, are easy to tell.
  4. Dream.  Think about big things and set big goals. (thanks Randy Pausch)  I have found that God has greater things in-store, than my even my dreams.  Mustard seed ideas, seedling goals, are often the things that God grows into amazing things
  5. Create.  God is the Creator.  Part of His image that we were created in, was the creative side of God.  God told Adam to explore and rule, Bezalel to build, and Paul to write.  Everyday there is a problem to solve, a message to communicate, a statement to make, we get to use our creativity to honor Him who first created.
  6. Stretch.  I started fighting bulls because I needed to do something that scared me to death.  Staying in the same spot, with the same knowledge, with the same skills, scares me to death.  Learn a new skill, try a new thing, and be scared every once in a while.  Stretch yourself daily.
  7. Work.  I “work” at a middle school where 90% or more of my job is babysitting.  In my “work” I struggle to find the purpose of what I am doing.  When I put up hay, ride horses, fix fence, build, sweat, and strain, I feel God’s purpose, calling, and intimacy. “Now we ask you brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you.” (1 Thes. 5.12)
  8. Serve.  Giving life, time, money, or work to someone or something, be it playing with penny dog and loving on her, cleaning for my wife, helping out with football, or stacking chairs at lunch, service has a way of reminding me where I fall in the grand scheme of things.  “For the Son of man came not be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10.45)

Eight pieces of homework everyday that God gives.  Every night I lay my head down on the pillow, I turn in my assignment.  In His grace, He knows that an “F” is not needed to teach me a less, but my conscience and His Spirit lets me know that I have failed.  His word and His Son’s example, shows me everyday, even the extremely successful day, that I still have much work to do.

What would you add to my list?


2 thoughts on “Uncommon Core

  1. Travis, I absolutely love your definition of the word “worship”, the mind being drawn to God’s activity and action. Did you come up with that? I always struggle with what is meant by worship and this makes it so clear! Thank you!

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