“I wanna be Bob Dylan;
Mister Jones wants to be someone a little more funky,
But I think when everybody loves you,
That’s just about as funky as you can be”

Thus spake Adam Duritz (Counting Crows). And I used to sing the lyrics a lot in high school. In the shower mainly.

We all want to be someone. Some of us want to be rich. Some of us want respect. Some of us want to be famous. Some of us – like Mister Duritz – just want to be loved. They say that every generation since the Second World War has been less sure of what it is that they want. Our grandparents had a clear plan for their lives: go to school, get good grades, get into university, study, get a job, get married, have kids, make money, retire, enjoy your grandkids. It was clear. Twenty-somethings today are more interested in adventure than security. We’re willing to study different things. We’re not afraid to quite our jobs and travel. We’re much less afraid of “ending up alone”. While this has definitely given us interesting lives, I sometimes worry that all our adventuring is just a cover for an overwhelming sense of aimlessness. Unlike our grandparents, we don’t really know what we want.

Leane (my fantastically beautiful and insightful wife) and I were talking about our life’s ambitions over breakfast yesterday. Wimpy coffee being very condusive for philosophical discussion, we spent quite a long while talking about what we really want from our lives. Leane wants a Masters Degree… and children. Her main confusion is about the order of those two priorities. I wish I had such clear ambitions. I’m busy studying two degrees concurrently. I’m in my final year of theology and my second year of teaching. I coach sports. I teach guitar lessons. I lead worship. I help out with the youth ministry. My life is compartmentalized. My big challenge is that I’m not sure which compartment should be the center. What do I really want?

Then in the evening we travelled down to Pongola with our good friends Sheldon and Christen Hallis for a party to celebrate a pastor and his wife’s 25th year of ministry in the sweaty little town. I have had the opportunity to preach and lead worship for this little congregation on several occasions. I’ve grown to love the people and the airconditioning. But more than anything, the reason I’m always willing to make the drive down to Pongola on a Sunday morning is because of the kind of people the pastor and his wife are. Its pretty special when you get to hear what people really think about you before you die. It’s sad, but most people have to wait for their funeral to hear that their lives have actually meant something to the people around them. To give you an idea of the kind of people this couple are: we arrived at the dinner at 17:30, left at 21:00, and spent about 15 minutes eating. The remaining 3 hours and 15 minutes were filled by speech after speech, and testimony after testimony about how much the pastor and his wife had meant to the guests. A couple came all the way from Holland for the weekend to be there at this dinner! What I heard over and over again is that this man and his wife had sacrificed their whole lives building tight relationships with their friends. They have been acting as spiritual parents to hundreds of people for 25 years. They have sacrificed every other ambition. Makes you think.

Everybody has ambitions. Not many people have beautiful ambitions. Maybe my generation can escape the rat-race of our parents and move beyond our wonderlust and realise that what we really want are ambitions we can be proud of. Lives that matter to more than 1 or 2 people. Maybe I can learn to matter. I hope so.