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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As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer.

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