I’m Now The Kind of Person I Usually Have Issues With

I’m Now The Kind of Person I Usually Have Issues With February 13, 2008

I’m about to become a teacher. Talk about karma. (By which I refer to my last post, “Life. Death. Pretending You’re a Crosswalk Guard.“)

Anyway, here are Le’ Facts de’ Grunt on this class I’ll be teaching:

What: Lenten study series

When: Every Wednesday night, from Feb. 13 through March 12, from 7-8 p.m. (Service at 6; dinner at 6:30; class at 7.)

Where: St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Del Mar, CA. (From some pretty funny “How rich are they in Del Mar?” jokes, see, “My Lenten Story Remains Untold. Thanks, Starbucks.“) St. Peter’s is at 14th Street and Coat Highway 101 in Del Mar. (It’s actually a block up 14th off the 101.)

Why: Because “Father Frank,” St. Peter’s interim rector, called and asked me to. I’m just that easy.

How: Me, in front of people, talking. (And totally open to anyone eager to prove themselves teacher’s pet. In that respect I’m also shamelessly easy.)

What, redux: Below is the official Class Description for the series. If you are anywhere near Del Mar, and would like to come hear me yap teach, please do. Everyone, and especially me, will be thrilled you did. Thanks.

Anyway, here’s my official Class Description:

Because Lent and Easter are grounded in the dynamic of Christ leaving one life behind and manifesting into a new one, Lent has always been a time for Christians to review their past and recommit themselves to God. So I’d like to use our Lenten study series as a means by which each of us can explore not only who we have been up to this point in our lives, but how having been that person has (whether we’ve known it or not) perfectly prepared us to now become the person we’d most like to be.

The idea is that throughout our lives God has been using our lives to turn us into someone prepared to enter into a full relationship with him. That’s what God wants; that’s what we want; that’s what every moment of every day of our lives we and God have been working on.

I’d like this class to help us see and understand exactly how and why that’s true.

In order to provide a means by which anyone might fruitfully and systematically analyze their own past (and thereby appreciate the potential of their future), we will spend our time together looking at the five primary roles that most of us have spent at least the first half of our lives “playing” and fulfilling. Those five roles are Super Overall Person, Child, Spouse/Mate, Parent, and Provider.

First, under “Good Riddance,” we’ll look at the aspects of the role we’re then considering that often prove less than entirely healthy for us — that, as we move on to the second half of our lives, we would do well to identify, and then jettison.

Next, under “Pure Gold,” we’ll take stock of those aspects of that life’s role that in their fulfilling typically have proven good and healthy for us: that tended to ennoble us, strengthen us, make us better, wiser, more pleasing to God. This is the stuff about that role which we should hold onto and build upon as we move into the second half of our lives.

Under “Movin’ On,” we’ll consider how we might use the best of what that role taught us–the “Pure Gold” we just identified — to fashion for ourselves the kind of spiritual and emotional life that we (and God) have long intended us to have.

Finally, under “Things To Do,” we’ll offer suggestions and exercises designed to enhance our experience and appreciation of what that role has and can now mean to us.

In the final of our five classes we will look back, and see how the primary lesson we learned by fulfilling each of our life’s roles not only can but are meant to combine within us to give us virtually everything we need to finally become the person we’ve always wanted to be.

A real person of God must be in full possession of five very distinct qualities, qualities so precious, and so hard to come by, that they can only be acquired through long, hard experience. Everyone who’s ever been or tried to be a Super Person, Child, Mate, Parent, and Provider does posses those five qualities. This class is intended to not just show but to prove why and how that’s true for each and every one of us.

This class is based on Midlife Manual for Men: Finding Significance in the Second Half, a book I co-authored with best-selling author Stephen Arterburn. It is just out from Bethany House Publishers; it is their lead title for the season.

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  • Sabina

    John, I think you're great and you'll do a great job teaching this class. Wish I could come, but I'm here in Chicago staying warm.

  • Will you explain why lent always gets stuck in my belly button?

    What, oh, that's lint. So sorry.

    Will the class be webcast so the rest of us can sell tickets to the show?

  • Sabina: If you really liked me, you'd fly out here and attend my class. (Hmm. That's weird. In my head that was pretty funny. But in print it just looks obnoxious. Bummer.) Kidding! Thank you, as always, for your kindess. And DO stay warm!!

    Brian: It's like you're funny — only different. (Score! That's ALWAYS funny. I love the, "It's like you're … — only different" bit. As "That's what she said" is to Michael Scott, so "It's like you're [blank] — only different" is to me.

    Webcast! Man, how cool would THAT be?? Sadly, I barely know how to work my mouse. (The key, I have found, is to tease her with cheese. I STILL GOT IT!!) I wish I did know how to do stuff like webcasting. It WOULD be fun to webcast the class. Man. I wish I'd thought of that. I could have figured out how to do that if only I'd thought of it about six years ago.

  • Laura

    so…if there's going to be no webcast, can you "volunteer" someone in your class to take word for word minutes so you can post it on your blog for those of us in Colorado?

  • Arnette

    I'm with Laura…you should appoint a "note-taker" in your class and give them an "A" if they take minutes and post them on the blog. Yeah…that'll work for me, too!

  • "Finally, under “Things To Do,” we’ll offer suggestions and exercises designed to enhance our experience and appreciation of what that role has and can now mean to us."


    As you note, this passage comes from the excellent MM4M book you co-authored. (I feel so cool when I use an abbreviation like that – like I've finally figured out text messaging).

    Just wanted to say the exercises make the book work. Hope it is as helpful to your class. Wish I was there.

    Lacking any announcement of seminars you and Mr. Arterburn might have planned in the D.C. area, I'll continue to muddle through on my own. Please keep me apprised as to how the class goes.


  • Kath

    Hmmm… John, this class is interesting. A real departure for you??

    Before I comment, I'll let you know where I'm coming from. I've been (in order) a Catholic (baptized and confirmed), a Jesus person (just barely old enough to get in on that — anyone else remember the "one way" sign?), a nondenominational Christian, an evangelical, almost a fundamentalist (a little too free-thinking, but I graced the fringes for awhile), a Presbyterian (conservative), and a Presbyterian (progressive, seminarian). All of these "camps" have VERY different takes on Jesus's life. Some are liturgical, some not. Some are literalist, some very much not. Some embrace ritual, some not. Some focused on relationship with Jesus, some not.

    I've thought of you as a belonging to the evangelical camp. An evangelical would approach Easter (and maybe Lent, maybe!) in terms of what Jesus did. A progressive, on the other hand, would approach Lent as a prototype, or type (as in typology) that we might use in looking at our own lives. Evangelical –> focus on what Jesus did and what his life, words, actions mean. Progressive –> use what Jesus did in order to extract a pattern we can use as guide to self-help (anything goes — almost).

    Your class is clearly taking the progressive camp's approach to Jesus's life.

    I'm just wondering what this means — where would you put yourself on the spectrum — it's a pretty big spectrum — and has huge implications.



  • Laura and Arnette: You guys are too kind. (And though I fear this'll sound like a shameless plug, the fact is I'll be basing everything in this class on "Midlife Manual for Men." Except I'll tweak it a tad to fit men and women. But basically, it's all in that book. All humans basically deal with the same stuff.

    Sam: Thank you very much! I really appreciate it. Truth be told, I am particularly proud of the book's excercises–what in it we call "Things to Do." So I'm glad you said that. Thanks again.

    Kath: I know this'll sound coy and dismissive–always a charming combo–but the truth is I just don't like pinning myself anywhere along "the spectrum." Personal theology is a complex matter–and, of course, a deeply personal one. It's kind of weird enough for me that I'm basically out here being a Public Christian. That's about as far on any kind of "spectrum" as I'm inclined to pin myself.

  • Deborah

    So John, here is a question/challenge. Will there be any singles in the class? Class syllabus seems very centered on the married with kids crowd – which is great, don't get me wrong! But is there a way to pull the lens back a bit to include the single adults (unless this is indeed a class for the married group) in your five role model? 🙂

  • Oh, yeah. The things one learns from life–the key sort of "take-away" lessons that I'm saying provide us with the means to at any point divest ourselves of the worst of our past and use the best of our past to create for ourselves a future wothy of ourselves (man, I hope that made sense)–can (and are) learned with any life led past about the age of 16. The raw material for real wisdom is the result of ANYONE'S life. Married. Single. Whatever.

  • Deborah

    Great! Now go out there and knock 'em dead (but not literally) with your brilliance.