Monday, April 29, 2013

The Ego Reminiscence Ratio...

Yesterday, I read a great thought from one of my favorite author's on community development named Robert Chambers. In a recent publication, he talked about the propensity of older people (like myself) to talk about things in the past by starting out conversations with, "I remember when..." or "When I was a kid..." It is basically what he calls the Ego Reminiscence Ratio (ERR) and is generally higher among men than women, increases with increased age, higher in the evening than in the morning and, according to Chambers, rises sharply with the consumption of alcohol. Since I meet all the criteria with the exception of one (alcohol consumption), I think I have experienced it.

Sometimes, I find myself thinking about the past. I think about how good it was to be a newly arrived young person in the Philippines working with rural development. I think about those early days of raising our family in a rural, third-world village setting and how exciting it was to be doing "hands on" relief and development. I often find myself thinking, "those were the good days..."

However, I have to come back to the reality that all of us have seasons in life. Things happen for a time and God places us in in those locations and roles usually for a time as well. It doesn't mean that what we did years ago was good and what we do today is bad, it just means that as we grow, God tends to bring not only more responsibilities to our lives but also new opportunities. If we grow in Him, we tend to move from doers to disciplers, makers to mentors and technicians to teachers/trainers.

My mind is tempted to long for those days when I did less of the teaching and administrative things that I do today. I tell myself, "it was easier back then" or "it was more fulfilling." That's when my Ego Reminiscence Ratio is in high gear.

But then I get a whiff of the Spirit and He gently reminds me that...

"Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus..." (Philippians 4:12-13)


"...since we have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus..." (Hebrews 12:1-2)


"So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don't give up..."

I think it a bit ironic that the acronym for the Ego Reminiscence Ratio is "ERR". I pray that I do cherish and learn from past experiences. But I also pray that I do not "err" and become content with those or even hold them up as the perfect example of what life should be. I pray that I do not become weary in well doing and I pray that I forget those things behind and press on towards the only thing worth pressing on towards: the high calling of Christ in my life.


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