Friday, May 26, 2006

Confession Time

Recently I attended Vanderbilt Divinity School's graduation to see my lovely fiancee, Jessica, receive her MTS degree (side note, Jessica now has a blog, American Eavesdropper, which you should all check out) .

As they do at many graduations, the school gave awards to exemplary students. Some of them were for specific things like highest GPA, achievement in theology, church history, etc. But several of the awards were much more subjective for things like "the student who most embodies the Divinity School's concept of 'minister as theologian'", and things like that. These awards went to the people you would expect, and deservedly so.

During the ceremony I found myself pondering the fact that I will be graduating next year. I also found myself hoping that I would be receiving one or more of those awards, especially the very subjective ones like the 'minister as theologian' award.

On one hand I guess this isn't all that bad. Who doesn't like affirmation from their peers, especially for things at which they work very hard? But I have to admit that I found myself wanting to win an award for the sake of winning an award. Ideally I would want to live up to those qualities and truly embody what it means to be a minister as theologian. And I do want to embody those qualities, so I guess my motivation isn't all bad. But I have to be honest with myself and admit that a big reason that I covet such an award is that I want to win something. I want to be the best and have everyone else know it.

A year from now if I go to graduation and find out that I do not win one of those awards my day will not be ruined by any stretch. I will be proud of my achievement of earning a Master's Degree from Vanderbilt, which is not easy to do. But the prideful part of my self will be disappointed because I was not recognized as the best of the best that day. It might actually be good for me not to win one of those awards. If I do, I hope that I will take it as a sign of my responsibility to strive toward those ideals which others have recognized in me and to be an example to others and not merely add another trophy on my shelf of accolades.

If I was to win an award I would want it to be for the right reasons, even if there is a part of me that wouldn't care if the reasons were wrong. This part of me may never go away but I hope to do everything I can to keep its voice as quiet as possible.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wanting to be recognized for ones achievements goes back to our need for our parents to praise us for doing well. This is not pride nor sinful when it comes down to human psyche. When it comes down to it, the people who matter to you most will be the ones who's praise will be the most appreciated, not a plaque or a trophy or even a commendation from your school.