I updated my CV yesterday


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.

About Doug

I have been a writer ever since fifth grade when I won second prize in a “prose and poetry” contest. I am also a Presbyterian pastor, and for several years toward the end of my career I lived and worked in Zürich, Switzerland. I am now retired and live just north of Holland, Michigan, along the lake.

10 Responses to I updated my CV yesterday

  1. Dennis Ulmer December 4, 2015 at 5:40 am #

    Good Blog, Doug. It’s good because, well, it’s always good to think about if one is making a difference. It never hurts to be reminded, that you can always grow in faith, and everything else too. You can always do better and improve yourself. Life is a journey and it never stops, and we should never be content that we have done all that we can or have learned everything. I think your sermons always made me think about that. How can I be better and am I making a difference? Good questions to ask yourself.

    • Doug December 5, 2015 at 12:46 am #

      I missed hearing from you, Dennis. Am glad you found the blog again!

  2. Linda Strodtman December 4, 2015 at 8:20 am #

    Doug, An interesting message and I think many of us when we revise our CV’s that we are often required to do within our professional life, wonder about “Is this more than a “brag” sheet? What I am amazed about when doing this review is the journey my life has taken that I really did not purposely pre-plan. It is more about using opportunity that occurred and being willing to take risks and hoping what one does is doing good for others. I knew as a child that certain life experiences influenced me to become a nurse (taking care from a young age of ill family members) but where that journey took me often depended upon others and their influence and the subsequent opportunities. And as one hits retirement years–there have been questions about have I done enough and when am I done (probably not until I die). When one has passion for their work and contributions–it just keeps going. Thanks for jogging this reflection. Linda

    • Doug December 5, 2015 at 12:46 am #

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Linda. I’m pretty sure, as you are too, that what is most important about us does not show up on the CV. In that sense, I’m not “done” either.

  3. Judson McCune December 4, 2015 at 11:26 am #

    What does “CV” refer to? It appears that would help me understand the message. Thank you.

    • Doug December 5, 2015 at 12:41 am #

      Judson, I thought I provided a pretty good definition of CV toward the middle of the post: “A record of one’s personal data, educational accomplishments, and work history.” Google provides an even shorter definition. Thanks for reading.

  4. Charles Scouten December 4, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

    Doug, your blog brings to mind the Adam 1 and Adam 2 of The Lonely Man of Faith by Rabbi Joseph Slovietchik. Your CV is the stuff of the competitive, achieving Adam 1, aimed at folks external like the Swiss bureaucrat. But, what endures is the epitaph stuff of Adam 2 – internal values and strength that make for real personal worth and move us closer to Christ and the example He set. Most of the time, for most of us, Christ is far way and a long time ago. We get distracted and forget so easily. We need the here and now today example people like you provide to help us also build the Adam 2 stuff. Thank you.

    • Doug December 5, 2015 at 12:35 am #

      That’s pretty much my sermon for this Sunday, Charles. You could fly over today and preach it for me. Interested? 🙂

  5. Leslie December 5, 2015 at 12:15 am #

    I love you and miss you. That’s a life well lived.

  6. Steve Stimpson December 5, 2015 at 1:31 am #

    Guten morgen, Doug,
    Elise and I are in South Africa, again. This visit has been 95% vacation, but has rehydrated many memories of the FPC excursion with the baker’s dozen of us in 2013. We’ve had almost 2.5 weeks in the Cape Town area where your Dutch ancestors set anchors for the first time. One highlight was preparing a Thanksgiving feast for five family members here. Your CV blog was most appreciated. I’ve been composing our Christmas newsletter, which is is a most casual mini-CV of our 2015 activities. You and I share the same love for job applications and interviews. So glad you’re back on the blog tour of duty. All the best to you, Susan and family,
    Steve & Elise

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