creative carriers of the tradition

In 1947 a man named Erving Goffman gave a speech to sociologists about the very thing of sociology. It was informal and, as seemed to be his way, he did not want to be recorded. Of course, he was speaking to a bunch of sociologists, to people who study and interview people, so everyone had a tape recorder and everyone, though wanting to respect his wishes, wanted even more so to have what he was going to say on record. After his death the recording of this message was transcribed and made accessible.

In the introduction to this piece the transcriber, Lyn H. Lofland wrote about how simple yet profound the message was. Lofland said, "[Goffman] was a creative carrier of tradition, not its inventor."

This quote struck me. Isn't that what we all are? Sure, a few among of us are the Steve Jobs and Bill Gates of this world, but as for the rest we are simply carrying on the tradition, hopefully as creatively as we possibly can.

This idea stretches into the everyday roles we carry. My role as a friend is nothing new. Friends have been around since the beginning. So I must ask myself how I can creatively, thoughtfully, and biblically live out my ordinary role as a friend?

As a wife or husband, how can you live out this well-known role with deep intention and conviction? As a mother or father, how can you love, talk to, and discipline your kids uniquely and with wisdom? As a brother or sister, how can you? As a child, how can you? As a student, teacher, mentor, boss, employee?

The Bible gives us a guideline of how to live in these roles in a way that is different than those around us. The kind of love we are commanded to show (1 Corinthians 13), the things we are to talk about (Deuteronomy 6:4-7), and the way we are to treat our enemies (Romans 12:14-21) is going to be unique to the ways of the world.

But even in the special way God equipped us we must aware and be attentive to live out the roles we find ourselves in as creatively as possible.

At the beginning of this school year I took a step back and looked at all that God had given me and asked how I could use it to love people well. My house and my heart for hospitality played a huge role for me in learning how I can play my role as student, friend, mentor in a creative and biblical way. These roles are not unique. I did not make them up. I didn't always choose them. But I pray that I use them to carry on the tradition thoughtfully, graciously, and beautifully by the power and strength of God.