IVP - Andy Unedited

May 23, 2018

Career Perspective (2): Finding Satisfaction

Tony loves teaching college students. Every time he is in front of a class and sees that wonderful moment of insight in the eyes of people in the room, he feels, This is what I was made for.

The problem is, he can't make a living doing this. More colleges are doing on-line courses. They are hiring fewer full-time professors and more part-time adjunct faculty. And even those positions are hard to come by. So he pieces together other jobs to pay the bills.

AsMark 1 2018 ATL.jpg I wrote here, so many of us don't feel fulfilled in our jobs. We feel disappointed in the course our careers have taken. We have all these skills and abilities and they just lie dormant. The problem may be expecting too much from our jobs. Rarely do they allow us to fully express our gifts and abilities. If we have a fifty percent overlap, we are very fortunate indeed.

When I complained to one of my early bosses, Jim Sire, about boring duties I had to attend to, he said, "Every job has scut work. No matter how high you rise, you will always have some routine, menial tasks you just can't get rid of." I tried to take that to heart. In a nice way he was saying to me, "Get over yourself."

What else can we do? Find ways to do what we enjoy, what gives us life and energy, outside of our jobs. I love music and performing. I've never found a way to get a salary doing that, however. But I have gotten my fix by being part of a choir or choral group most of my life. No pay, but lots of satisfaction.

I Shishkabob.jpgenjoy being creative in a variety of settings. I like trying out new recipes or creating my own, experimenting with different meals. Fortunately, usually the people who eat those meals also enjoy that! I'm not paid as a chef, sous chef, or even a cook. But it's still very satisfying.

No one pays me to blog. But I do it anyway because I enjoy the creative process of writing and working with ideas.

The more we can align our jobs with our motivated skills, the better. So Tony should not stop looking for that dream job, but in the meantime, he can find other outlets that offer real satisfaction.

Photo credits: Bob Wolniak; Pixabay/naimbic

Posted by Andy Le Peau at 10:08 AM | Comments

May 16, 2018

Career Perspective (1)

A friend said, "I have a number of coworkers who feel disappointed in the course their careers have taken. They've not succeeded or advanced as they had hoped. They feel that what they have to offer hasn't been fully utilized. What would you say to them?"

Such feelings are common. Our aspirations at thirty often aren't realized at sixty. We see so many possibilities early in life. Slowly, however, options are eliminated as each choice we make narrows our vista. And time limits other avenues as each year proceeds.

Is 99 percent.jpgsuch dissatisfaction the fate for the ninety-nine percent? When I started looking back about age sixty, it occurred to me that both the successes and disappointments in my career had remarkably little to do with me.

In college I had an interest in publishing and so took the opportunity to join IVP when I saw an openning a few years later. At that time Christian publishing was booming. Bookstores were multiplying. Authors were productive. The Jesus movement was moving. The economy was stable. So many key decisions I made succeeded. Now I see that I didn't do well because I was so smart, savvy, and forward looking. Mostly I was just in the right place at the right time.

Then the environment changed. Bookstores began to fade. Reading rates were flat or declining. The rise of digital threatened the life of print. The economy tanked. The growth of publishing and Christian publishing became a glut as the number of new books published grew from 40,000 to nearly one million each year. I worked harder, longer, smarter than ever. Little seemed to make any discernible difference. Mostly I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Circumstances play a huge role in our lives, often far more than our particular strengths and weaknesses. If in the 1890s my grandparents had not decided to leave Europe before two world wars engulfed the continent, I might not be here geographically--or here at all. That decision had a much more profound affect on the course of my life than any decision, effort, or skill of my own.

This Fellowship of the Ring.jpgis not fatalism. This is perspective. My choices do have genuine impact. But within a limited sphere. In The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo lamented the evil tide of events that was building around him.

"I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.

"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."

Due to circumstances in those later decades of my career, I didn't get to use all my gifts or abilities the way I wanted. That, however, is not the point. Whether our times be good or ill, our task is to decide how to respond and who we will be in the midst of them.

When I look back now, I think, what a gift to see IVP weather so many challenges, to have worked with so many fine people, to have accomplished so much, to have touched so many readers, to have had the opportunity to use so many of the gifts God gave! When I look back, I do so with gratitude.

Image credit: Pixabay, geralt

Posted by Andy Le Peau at 10:09 AM | Comments (1)

May 10, 2018

We Were Eight Years in Power

The dramatic pendulum swing from a President Obama to a President Trump has left analysts, both right and left, scrambling to understand what happened. In We Were Eight Years in Power, Ta-Nehisi Coates, who has become the premier commentator from Black America, responds by collecting eight articles he published in The Atlantic, one per year, during the Obama administration. To each he adds an extended preface which reflects on the strengths and weaknesses of each piece, and which looks forward to implications the ideas in each essay might have.

TheWe Were Eight Years.jpg first half includes portraits of Bill Cosby, Michelle Obama, and Malcolm X. The centerpiece of the second half is his widely acclaimed article "The Case for Reparations" not just for slavery but for Jim Crow, redlining, and more. Other substantial essays include one on mass incarceration in the US and a portrait of President Obama.

The two halves reflect changes in Coates. Most obviously, those in the latter part are much longer, a result of his own rise as a writer and as a reluctant minor celebrity.

More significant is the shift in tone. The early essays are laments for the Black community, for himself, and for America. The book is well subtitled "An American Tragedy." An underlying sadness pervades each essay.

The tone of the later essays pivots to persistent hopelessness. Will reparations happen? Probably not. But even if they did, nothing much would change.

Will mass incarceration end? There are actually a few bipartisan hints this might be coming, but it will be immensely difficult to carry out. Even if it does end, white America will figure out another way to replace it just as Jim Crow replaced slavery, redlining replaced Jim Crow, and mass incarceration replaced redlining. At the very least, it will take several more generations for America to come to terms with its sins of the past and see Black people as full citizens of the nation.

This book requires us to look inward at ourselves as individuals and as a community. Where does such dogged oppression come from? Why is it necessary for one race to view others as inferior or dangerous or evil? In his preface to the essay on incarceration, Coates quotes one of his literary heroes, James Baldwin, who offers one thought-provoking answer.

White people in this country will have quite enough to do in learning how to accept and love themselves and each other, and when they achieve this--which will not be tomorrow and may very well be never--the Negro problem will not exist, for it will no longer be needed.

Posted by Andy Le Peau at 10:04 AM | Comments

May 2, 2018

Cultivating a Lost Art

Civil conversation is sadly a lost art. In Winsome Persuasion, however, Tim Muehlhoff and Richard Langer contend that the more civil we are, the more persuasive we become.

Continue reading "Cultivating a Lost Art"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 11:53 AM | Comments

April 25, 2018

The Psalmist Reflects on Genesis

In my previous post, I asked, What exactly is meant that people are in the image of God? The answer Psalm 8 offers reinforces these thoughts. As the psalmist reflects on the creation described in Genesis 1 and our place in it, he wonders what makes humans so special. He then responds, "You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet" (verse 6).

Continue reading "The Psalmist Reflects on Genesis"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 10:03 AM | Comments

April 18, 2018

The Image of God

What does it mean that we are made in the image of God? Over the centuries many options have been proposed for what Genesis 1:27 means.

So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them
Continue reading "The Image of God"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 10:05 AM | Comments

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book cover"Some publishers tell you what to believe. Other publishers tell you what you already believe. But InterVarsity Press helps you believe," says J. I. Packer. Andy Le Peau and Linda Doll describe how this came to be a hallmark of InterVarsity Press in Heart. Soul. Mind. Strength, an anecdotal history spanning the sixty years from the founding of IVP in 1947 to the present day.