Eugene Cho

what are your “life giving” questions?

I love what I do but it’s amazing how even that which you do and that which you feel “called” to do can grow in an unhealthy way to become idolatrous or simply draining. While we all know we don’t live in a fantasy land where everything is life-giving all the time, there are important things we ought to be doing – not because we have to – but rather, we get to preserve vitality in our life.

The consequence – if we dont’ care well for ourselves – is that you can get in a funk.

So, recently, I’ve been asking myself some questions to check my balance because spirituality isn’t just about “going to church” for an hour on Sundays or in my case, preaching a sermon on a Sunday.  I’m incredibly grateful that we’re wired in such a way that our spirituality is holistic and also unique. What is life giving to me might not be as life giving to others or our priorities may be different as well.

As I regularly check in on the “how is my soul?” question, here are the numerous questions I’ve been asking myself:

Am I praying?

Praying. Listening. Praying for myself; For others. Being still… As my mind whirls around with dreams and ideas, am I being still…

Am I reading the Scriptures?

And not just for the purposes of teaching but for my own self? That I open myself to the teaching of the Holy Spirit.

How am I doing with my wife?

Are we still dating and growing together? Are we experiencing intimacy? Good communication. Deep conversation. Laughter.

How am I doing as a Dad?

I need to be more present and to deeply enjoy them. And not go #TigerDad on them. I so much enjoy playing with them, praying with them, and creating memories with them.

Am I sabbathing and sleeping?

Shabbat. Seriously.

Is there a day or rather, let me be more realistic, is there a full half-day where I’m remembering, resting, and rejoicing in the Lord.

Sleeping as in resting.

Friendships?

Do I even have friends that aren’t just focused around ministry or what we can do for one another but simply care and enjoy one another,

Am I writing?

Blogging and writing is actually really good for my soul. But sometimes, I have to remember to write for myself and for my vitality rather than looking at writing as another “task” or ministry item.

Am I exercising and playing sports?

Damn it.

This used to be one of my passionate hobbies…

Am I fishing?

Refuge. Solitude. Peace. I used to go fishing twice/week and asides from a two week intense plunge over the summer, I no longer fish. And I need to…

Am I playing music?

I need to get back on my guitar. Sing. Write.

How about you?

What are some unique or common things you do to fight the funk, restore balance, and get the mojo back.

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21 Responses

  1. JBen says:

    I would put all of those on my list (except that I don’t have a wife or kids). I recently had a prayer retreat where God reminded me of how much I love to study Scripture so I decided to build an hour of it a day into my schedule. So now I am blogging through the whole thing. I love it.

    But sabbath and writing? Oh yeah, those are great things to do. Laughing with friends? yes please! hmm, you and I seem to have a lot in common. Peace!

  2. Bryan says:

    Great questions

    My list includes everything except writing and fishing.

    Some I have that you don’t

    Am I sleeping?
    Am I drinking enough water?
    Am I reading in a balanced way (fun, theology, ministry, history, current stuff, etc..)

    Some “Get the funk out” habits I have
    1. I set quarterly goals instead of annual and that includes mixing up spiritual disciplines. I get bored to fast to just keep up the same old thing for a year.
    2. Sometime you just have to lower the hoop. Dunking on a 9 foot rim makes me regulation height.
    3. Playing with kids like I’m a kid. Coloring, drawing, video games, and other goofy stuff that keep me young.
    4. Solitude – I know I am in a funk when I isolate, but when I am seeking solitude in prevent mode or in intervention mode, it brings great health to my whole being.
    5. Fasting – sometimes for spiritual reasons, sometimes for health, sometimes to just change the pace.
    6. Lament – I like to write my own Lament psalms. I think there is a pretty regular pattern in the psalms and I like to follow and do my own. If I start to get extra cynical, it’s time for some biblical blues

  3. kristi says:

    Understanding how it’s all connected, and thus all important, was a big turning point for me, too, Eugene. Another big one is, “How’s my diet?”

  4. Kenny Jahng says:

    Great post and challenges!

    Here are two more that I need to be asking of myself:

    1) Who am I mentoring and actively encouraging?

    2) Am I creating something new, useful, or inspiring? Do I have an active or soon to be active project that is an outlet for creativity and contribution?

    Thanks for the reminder to de-funk ourselves from time to time!

    Kenny
    http://www.twitter.com/godvertiser

  5. Long time RSS reader. Thanks for the insights.

    Today I’m finally commenting because as a borderline workaholic these are the kind of questions that help keep me stay on the right side of the line.

    Scott

  6. alexoh says:

    Is that from fly fishing or deep water? I recently saw A River Runs Through It on your recommendation and it made me want to go fly fishing.

  7. Ramon says:

    When I get into a funk I usually write poetry. Nothing too deep and intellectual. I just play with the words and let them bring healing to my soul.

    Thanks for this post. You have inspired me to try fishing!

  8. Pat Pope says:

    I tend to allow myself to stay in the funk rather than fight it and then I look to the things around me that I have to do and begin to pick myself up out of it. Sometimes I just need the alone time and I’m usually stronger for it as I’ve gotten it out of my system and am able to move on stronger and determined. Last night I did laundry and my taxes and just being productive again helps even if it involves taxes! I think by staying in a self-imposed funk I get sick of myself and that’s what motivates me to move on.

  9. Hanker says:

    Thanks, I’m in the funk due to some issues at the church. Thanks for the list, as an extravert I would add be with people, talk and connect with friends and colleagues.
    Pax,

  10. jchenwa says:

    nice catch!

  11. Kayce says:

    Those are some good questions. I think I will start using them from now on. Thanks!

  12. Jason says:

    Except for fishing [it would be rock/mountain climbing for me]our lists are pretty much the same.

  13. […] read this blog entry from Eugene Cho’s blog about “life giving” questions and was encouraged to make […]

  14. […] to do ministry at my current pace for another 30 years.  As I continue to ask myself the larger “life giving questions”, I needed to slow down, practice Sabbath if even in creative ways, and honor the rhythm of my […]

  15. […] the effort. (For help with identifying your life-giving routine/s, I recommend this old post “What Are Your Life-Giving Questions?” by Eugene […]

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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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