New Year's Resolution: Move in next door

It's Christmas Eve and I have New Year's resolutions on the mind. You might say I'm moving on too quickly, but one is feeding into the other so I feel okay multi-holidaying. Consider my little math equation:

(Christmas + Gift-giving) x (New Years + Goal-setting) x Others / Self
= A Challenging 2010 with Kick-backs from Generosity 

Typically, seven or eight out of ten New Year's Resolutions have Self on center-stage: Lose weight, pay off debts, get a better job, quit smoking.... Still, I love the energy around this motivation-driven, list-making, endeavor. The cycle of time offers a yearly reminder and opportunity to straighten out the crooked parts of life, and many of us jump at the invitation.

But what if we mixed the goal-setting of New Years with the gift-giving of Christmas? We could end up with a more generous 2010. The cost of serving others will make it challenging, of course, but long-term rewards should outweigh any short-term sacrifices. What could this mean practically?

Practically speaking
Well, in the spirit of becoming vocationally good neighbors, it means using your imagination to move in next door to a consumer. In a recent article called "Eight Inches Away", I asked:

"If you practice law and your client lives next door, does this...make you treat her case differently? If you teach high school and your worst student lives next door, does it affect your relationship? And what if you make advertisements and your neighbor buys the gadgets you promote? Do you question what you're selling and how?"

I asked these question because I've lived and worked in a duplex for the past five years. My actual neighbor isn't a client but the situation has forced me to ask the questions. Loving your neighbor as yourself resides practically and essentially at the heart of work. This New Years, I have a chance to renew that goal of giving to customers and clients as I think about living eight inches away from them.

If you're looking for an addition to your resolution list, try this one out. The kick-backs are great (and they offer a nice little something for Self, too!)   

Read "Eight Inches Away" at The High Calling. Note to friends: No, we haven't moved. I don't know who lives in that photo.

The High Calling is a site about work and God.


Layer #4

I'm working on a little project that I hope to post soon. Art Direction isn't my specialty but I love to create. And because I'm focusing on vision and vocation, Advent is the perfect time to show you one of the images. It's presently called Layer #4.

Layer #4 depicts an advertising employee in relationships with her agency and with an end user. Becoming a good neighbor to the consumer next door requires attention to both of these, and as long as there is greed, laziness and self-centeredness in the world, she'll have her work cut out for her.

Most importantly, she views the end user as a recipient of her care. Then she continues by pushing and pulling her agency - including her subordinates, superiors, colleagues and clients - to do the same. The work is never done, and she knows it won't be.

She knows she can't cure us all of consumerism. She also knows her agency won't avoid every compromise of integrity. But she believes her work matters and that if she submits to a grander perspective, she'll find strength to keep at it.

On this note, I'll leave you with the oft-quoted, mis-attributed and wonderful poem, A Future Not Our Own:

It helps now and then to step back and take a long view.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of
saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession
brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church's mission.
No set of goals and objectives include everything.

This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one
day will grow. We water the seeds already planted
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects
far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of
liberation in realizing this.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord's
grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the
difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not
messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.

- Attributed to Archbishop Oscar Romero, but composed by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw


"Is my map in the way?"

"No, no. You're good."

Besides the point being clearly and humorously made in this recent VZW commercial, the objectification* of signal reception is ingenious.
I had a second thought after seeing this TV spot. An often subtle difference exists between commercials that exaggerate consumers' sense of need and those - such as this one - that rightly highlight it. Of course, if AT&T provides adequate service in my area, I don't need a game-blocking coverage map. (Why would I need coverage for Alabama if I don't ever go there?) However, it isn't a stretch to consider that frequent travelers may very well need Verizon's offer (for the coverage, at least).

*While the VZW map image is clever (and their service memorable), I liked AT&T's use of objectification in Rollover Minutes better.


Two houses or one?

Update: Thanks for helping me choose the new header image! The two-house image won among commenters and e-mailers alike.


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