Life 201 is a weekly advice column headed by pastor, counselor and RELEVANT Podcast member Eddie Kaufholz. Eddie answers questions and gives advice on issues you want to hear about. Email your questions to Life201@RELEVANTmagazine.com.
Welcome back to Life 201! Let’s get started:
What’s the best way to have a breakup conversation? I know this needs to be handled carefully and I want it to end peacefully.
Matt, there is a lot of long-winded, complex advice out there on this subject, but I’m just going to be short and to the point.
Here’s how you do a breakup conversation: In-person, respectfully and sooner than later. Then, be done. Don’t let it drag out into some 3 hour postmortem cry-fest, just end it and go home.
Hi Eddie, I just finished my undergrad at [insert your favorite school here] and am thinking about applying to seminary. I really feel called to ministry and I figure this is the right thing to do. What do you think?
Great question, Samantha. Now hear me out, because my answer is probably not what you’re expecting.
Maybe you shouldn’t go to seminary. Or at least, not yet.
Here’s the thing, I went to seminary, and it’s great. Those years were a challenging and refining dance through theology, philosophy and history. And if you go to the right school, many of which are RELEVANT sponsors (yeah!), you’ll get to hear from some of the greatest thinkers of our day, as well as engage in the best conversations of your life. Truly, seminary is a magical place.
However, it’s not ministry-figuring-out time, it’s ministry-outfitting time. In seminary, you gain a lot of head knowledge and theory about ministry, which is great. But head knowledge means nothing if there’s no sense of how to apply it.
From your question, it seems like you’re feeling a tug towards vocational ministry, but have no idea what that vocation may be. To that end, I would forgo learning about ministry, and get your hands dirty doing it. If you have any semblance of an idea of something that sparks your interest, go and do that. Work for free in your church and get a barista job to pay rent. Be an intern. Beg a Young Life leader to let you help out. Basically, do anything you can do to amass experiences and gain a deeper understanding of how your best abilities may be intersecting with God’s plans.
Then, once you’ve figured that out and you know the area of ministry you’re supposed to engage in …
Still don’t to seminary.
Now what you need to do is read books, go to Bible studies, find free seminary courses online and generally just become a student of everything pertaining to your newfound calling. And then, if you’ve done all of that, and there’s still a hunger in you to add more tools to the toolbelt …
Wait for it …
Go to seminary!
Now you’re ready. You know your strengths and weakness, you know your deepest passions, and you know, very clearly, what you don’t know.
Samantha, I hope you don’t feel that my answer is an indictment of your decision, but rather an affirmation of your path and an encouragement to go and change the world—and then go to seminary if it’s helpful.
What would Jesus say about the idea of retirement saving?
The Bible (and Jesus) are relatively silent on our modern idea of cashing in at 65 and riding our Mobility Scooters into the sunset. However, if you want to know what Jesus would say, let’s look at what he did say…
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
-Matthew 28 19-20, NIV
Derek, I don’t think Jesus would care one bit if you saved some money and quit your job at some point. But, I think He would care a great deal if you stopped doing the work to which you’ve been called (see above).
For our family, we’re saving for retirement not so that we can do nothing, but so that we can have the opportunity to give extravagantly, make bold choices in where we go and how we serve (without needing to be paid), and forge new trails that utilize a career’s worth of wisdom and resources. In short, we’re saving for retirement so that we can be nimble as we live out the Great Commission in our later years. I’d encourage you to do the same.
Have a question? Good! All identifying information will be kept anonymous. Send an email to Life201@RELEVANTmagazine.com
Eddie Kaufholz is a writer, speaker and podcaster and serves as a director of church mobilization for International Justice Mission. He also hosts and produces "The New Activist" podcast. You can find on Twitter @EdwardorEddie.