I updated my CV yesterday. I didn’t expect I would have to do it again so soon and, frankly, I had hoped never to do it again. I never did like doing it.
But there I was yesterday staring at the computer screen with all of the accomplishments of my life in front of me.
After 60 years I can somehow fill most of a page.
Beyond a change of address, I wasn’t sure there would be any other editing to do, but I found myself adding international church experience, still-far-from-fluent status in another language, and – oh yes – another book. (Sorry, still too soon for pre-orders.)
Members of the church in Zürich will want to know that I am not looking for another job. As a matter of fact, I would prefer never to have another job interview, which for me is in the same category as standardized tests. I hope I am finished with both.
I updated my CV yesterday because the Swiss are compulsive record keepers. Or they are really nosy. Or they are trying to provide jobs in local government. Or all of the above may be true. My CV was required as part of my application for an extension to my work permit.
Updating my CV of course started me thinking about a lot of things. As a preacher, I can find spiritual meaning just about anywhere, and this little exercise yesterday was almost too easy. A record of one’s personal data, educational accomplishments, and work history is by its very nature a spiritual document, a record of my time on earth.
I looked at it longer than I needed to – certainly longer than the Swiss bureaucrat will – and I’m still not sure what to think. Some of it is good, some of it could be better. I can see my parents looking hard and long at the CV, and I can hear them say, as they used to say quite often, “Doug, if you had only applied yourself, you could have done better.”
Overall I think I have applied myself, but after all these years I find myself wondering what, if anything, I have accomplished with my life. I wonder if it really amounts to anything. Have I made full use of the gifts God has given me?
Please don’t write to reassure me. I plan to answer this question for myself in my own way. I think it’s an important question, maybe more fitting for Lent than for Advent.
What I want to do – and anyone who has ever heard me preach will recognize this end-of-sermon move – what I want to do is ask about you. What counts for you as a good life, as a life well-lived? Have you lived to your potential? Have you applied yourself? Have you used the gifts God has given you?
I suppose I should end with a resounding and inspiring endorsement about God’s grace, about how God loves us in spite of our flaws, our shortcomings, and our chronic laziness.
But I think we should live with the question a bit longer. If we had applied ourselves, could we have done better? I know I could have.