Author: Min Choi

Life

I have 1 hour


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So I have 1 hour… 55 minutes actually. It’s totally free. I can choose to do nothing, relax, YouTube surf… OR. OR edit and upload my next audioblog, go research, read a book, learn something.

I am tired. I am struggling this morning. But this moment can affect the rest of my week. This hour can have a domino effect on everything else that I do.

So, I am going to start right now.

I will upload at the end of the hour!

PEACE!

Podcast

My Audio Blog is on iTunes


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So, I registered to be on iTunes this past weekend! It’s a super easy process but I feel really accomplished. It’s been a dream in the making and I am super stoked about what’s ahead.

You can check it out here.

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This is the beginning of a new chapter. And it’s important to state that I am not in it for the short-term. It’s the long term I am focused on. I am ready to go long and far. This is a life goal. This is going to take years to bear fruit but I am investing now. Because the one thing that I don’t want to say 5, 10, 15 years from now is that I didn’t try.

So the future is unclear. But I am not worried about it right now. Right now, I am having fun. I am thriving. I am enjoying life. And all I am really doing is tightening up, shoring how I live my life, cut out the excess, and only focus on the things that matter.

This is my M.O. Waste is waste. Value is value. My 30’s is wide open. I can’t wait to see what happens.

 

Leadership, Life

Love the process


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I’m just going to say it: Your dreams are not your dreams if you are not trying to make them a reality every single day.

It’s that simple.

I’ve been riding this wave of getting the backstory of people who have greatly influenced me in recent years. Leaders, influencers, authors, entrepreneurs, and innovators… the ones that are defying and defining the world every single day. I’m talking about people like Casey Neistat who is now trying to create the biggest conduit for YouTube creatives in New York City. I’m talking about Simon Sinek who is now about to release his next leadership book, The Infinite Game, this October. How about Elon Musk who is shaping the tech-landscape and changing how the world commutes on land, water, and in space.

You know what’s fascinating? None of them were overnight successes. But all we see is where they are now. You don’t know their origin story unless you seek it out. But the truth is, All of them had slow, frustrating beginnings but all of them stayed true to this one creed: Loving the process.

I am wondering if you see what I see when you witness today’s paragons for change and transformation. I see a culmination of everything that they have worked towards. I see every minute of every day in everything worthy of witnessing because truly good things take hours, thousands of hours.

There are only two paths: the straight, narrow (and long) path that gets you from this point in your life to where you truly want to go or the broad one that leads nowhere most of the time.

It’s frustrating to hear how many people talk about their dreams like its either knocking at their door tomorrow just waiting for them or its literally two or three lifetimes away.

One camp thinks it’s only a degree or job application away. They think it’s just going to happen. This is straight up entitlement. They talk about these amazing life goals, that dream job, or this ultimate payoff as a certainty or inevitability.

The other camp? They will never try because they believe that they will never get there. It’s because they are fearful of failure and risk. Their mentality is “better to have a tiny portion then lose it all.”

Very different mentalities yet both don’t care about the beginning or middle act, only the end result.

People who love the process don’t care about the end. They only care about the present and near-future. They love hustling, grinding, making mistakes, overcoming obstacles, and learning every single day. It’s their very life source; the process is the very air they breathe in life. They love getting better and better and better, one microscopic step after another. They are relentless. They are obsessed. They are inspired.

I ask a lot of people (mostly college students) what they want, what they’re passionate about. More than not, I get “I don’t really know.” And that’s OK. You’re in a good spot. Being honest, humble, and hungry is such a key thing as we try to figure things out.

But make sure that “I don’t know” doesn’t mean “I can’t” or “I don’t care.”

I want to inspire desperation in you. I want you to seize your life, keep track of everything that you do, and start figuring things out. I WANT you to know who you are. I want you to experience failure more than success because failure is what turns our brittle spirit into vibranium.

It’s not easy. You have to find it. You have to focus on it. And for a very long time, you have to dedicate yourself to it. The commitment is HUGE but the payoff is even bigger.

You have to love the process. You have to love practicing. You have to love the nuance more than the novelty.

If you stay true to yourself and your passion. Then, you can overcome things that many people never even attempt to overcome. You can silence the naysayers. You can gloat at the haters. You can overcome fear, doubt, shame, guilt, regret, and most of all, a wasted life.

What are you going to start working on today? Let today be Day One. Let today be the beginning of a new story arc.

Need some inspiration? Me too. Here’s one of my favorite videos:

Go and create something. After all, you’ve been created to.

Life

ENNEAGRAM: The False-Self


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Within the narrative framework of the Enneagram typology is this idea that all of us have created and propped up an identity out of a need for survival.

Mystics commonly called this particular identity the “false-self”–an identity born from a combination of internal an external pressures that betrays and undermines who we genuinely are, masking and/or debilitating our healthy and natural characteristics for self-preservation.

It goes that we are exposed to physical and psychological threats from when we are infants. And so, from the beginning, we are always trying to process and defend ourselves from sources of pain and guilt.

For example, when you were younger, you may have heard this from a parent or a friend that “Boys do not cry!” And if you were a person that naturally expresses through emotions, this statement would have induced a sociological and psychological crisis and would become a “threat” to you. Crying has become a vulnerable, weak spot. So, what do you do? You lock away your emotions. And now, you have adopted a false characterization of yourself. If you heard this being a girl, you may have assumed through implication that girls not only can but SHOULD cry, and that wasn’t true of you, you may have struggled with that.

The point is that we all experience significant moments that triggers our need to survive: You will be an “A-Student.” Don’t let them see you sweat. The worst thing you can tell someone is “Good job!” Or you are only loved if you achieve. Winning is everything.

All this amounts to us doing a Dr. Frankenstein and creating our “monster” called the “false-self.” This false-self only desires self-preservation. It uses our natural strengths, propensities, and wirings to maximize safety, minimize pain, and self-justify its existence.

This was never the plan. We were meant for ultimate flourishing and fidelity, not survival.

When our life is bent solely towards survival, we don’t experience creativity, growth, authenticity, and joy. We stay in this perpetual state of desperation, anxiety, attack, and defense. A true monster. To hunt or be hunted, becoming strong to beat the weak.

But we don’t just create a monster, we forfeit dominion and autonomy. We adopt and legitimize this “false self.” 

The most difficult thing about this monster is that it is made in the image of our true self. It uses the same strengths. It knows our language. It retains a version of our motives, dreams, and nightmares.

But that’s not the worst of it. We somehow do something even more debilitating–we bury the truth that this monster exists and then self-induce amnesia.

If this is all true, then for us to regain who we are, we just begin a long and hard journey back into the caverns of our hearts. We need to retrace our story to find where we have buried our true self. And ultimately, we have to discover the monster within us.

I have found that the enneagram is a tremendous tool to help us on this journey of self-discovery and healing.

Culture, Technology

Social media is growing up – Vero


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Just yesterday, Twitter notified me that I have been on their platform for 7 years. It’s probably my most frequented app on my phone, and there is a lot of reasons why it works for me personally. Before Twitter, I was a Facebook user predominantly. Even though I still maintain my Facebook profile, I hardly use it for any significant social purposes. But I know that a lot of people do.

For many, social media is synonymous with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat–the big four right now (although Snapchat is having a bit of a crisis thanks to a Jenner). You know this because they have become cultural verbs.

Remember Febreeze, TiVo, and Xerox? I bring them up because they also were part of our cultural vocabulary. Now, not so much.

Likewise, Facebook and Twitter, if history repeats itself, won’t be around forever. Because social media will eventually evolve and grow up.

Most of us, I believe, do not just want a presence on social media but actually want social media to lead to authentic, incarnational communities. We are a lonely, hyper-sensitive to missing out generation and our current social media does not help us escape this state and mature.

Enter Vero.

The people behind this new social media platform has picked up on something about social media–it has become bloated, encumbered, and ultimately, a platform for consumers rather than a source for genuine communities.

I love companies that have a strong WHY as their foundation. I believe that Vero has something compelling to offer. Check this video out.

“Vero” means truth. I believe the next generation will jettison the bad digital habits of the last decade and adopt more prudent, sophisticated social network.

I believe their manifesto is correct.

PEOPLE NATURALLY SEEK CONNECTION.

THAT’S WHY ONLINE SOCIAL NETWORKS HAVE BEEN SO WIDELY ADOPTED OVER THE PAST TEN YEARS.

THEY OFFERED THE PROMISE OF CONSTANT CONNECTION AND THE MEANS TO KEEP IN TOUCH WITH FRIENDS AND TO SHARE WHAT’S HAPPENING IN OUR LIVES.

BUT AS TIME PASSED, AN IMBALANCE BEGAN TO FORM BETWEEN THE INTERESTS OF THE PLATFORMS AND THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE USERS.

AND A FALSE SENSE OF CONNECTION LEFT US LONELIER THAN EVER.

IN REAL LIFE, PEOPLE ARE NEVER PRESENTED WITH A ONE SIZE FITS ALL AUDIENCE. WE SHARE DIFFERENT THINGS WITH DIFFERENT PEOPLE.

MOST SOCIAL NETWORKS REDUCE EVERYONE TO A FRIEND OR A FOLLOWER. THIS ENCOURAGES US TO ONLY SHARE THE PARTS OF OUR LIVES WE THINK ARE THE MOST INTERESTING.

WHEN YOU CAN CONTROL WHO SEES WHAT, YOU CAN BEHAVE IN A WAY THAT IS MORE NATURAL, WHICH WE BELIEVE ENDS UP BEING BETTER FOR YOU.

SO WE DECIDED TO CREATE SOMETHING MORE AUTHENTIC.

WE CREATED A SOCIAL NETWORK THAT LETS YOU BE YOURSELF. HENCE THE NAME VERO. MEANING TRUTH.

WE MADE OUR BUSINESS MODEL SUBSCRIPTION-BASED.
MAKING OUR USERS OUR CUSTOMERS, NOT ADVERTISERS.

THE GREATEST SOCIAL NETWORK IS THE ONE THAT ALREADY EXISTS BETWEEN PEOPLE.

VERO’S MISSION IS TO MAKE IT AVAILABLE ONLINE.

THANKS FOR HELPING US BUILD A TRULY SOCIAL NETWORK.

Human nature craves connection. And our generation is about to conclude our ten-year social experiment where we tried to satisfy our desire for belonging and community through “beta” social networks. Verdict? We as a society are clamoring for something better. And better is on the horizon.

I don’t know if Vero will be successful by any means. But the natural selection process is beginning. As technology progresses, I believe that human beings will continue to tweak and refine how we integrate our digital life to ultimately serve our incarnational life.

Maybe it will be 5 years from now. Or maybe 10. But it’s not hard to imagine a world that leaves Facebook and Twitter behind.

As for me, I am always willing to try something new. Vero is free for life for the first 1 million users. If you are interested, I suggest you sign up quickly!

Thoughts

I will be pursuing a doctoral degree


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Today, I have some good news! I was verbally accepted into the DMin program at Portland Seminary. I will be studying underneath Dr. Len Sweet who heads the Semiotics and Future Studies track.

I am excited to study and learn new concepts and truths. I am looking forward to meeting new friends and fellow partners of the Gospel. But most of all, I cannot wait to see what God is going to show me through this season.

I have doubts, and indeed, there will be obstacles to overcome. But I am incredibly grateful and full of hope that this endeavor will bear much fruit.

Grace and peace.

Life

Enneagram: A discovery of embarassment


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When I first was introduced to the Enneagram, I had major doubts about the accuracy and more importantly, the implications of the results. And my greatest suspicion wasn’t the test but myself, or more precisely, my ability to self-report who I am, what my tendencies are, and how I react in light of those characteristics with confidence. I had a concern that if I go down this rabbit hole, I would be misled, mischaracterized, or even worse, enshrine a lie in my heart as truth, being worse off than before.

For those of us who have a keen interest in the Enneagram but have difficulty identifying the number type we recognize with, we face a “dilemma of skepticism.” We don’t want to be boxed in. We don’t want to be told who we are. We don’t want to be reduced or diminished by a number.

Later on, I realized the Enneagram does not function as a horoscope, telling you what you are or what you’re not, dictating what you should or shouldn’t do, etc. It’s not a set of rules or prescriptions that deconstruct your identity into a perfect box. Instead, Richard Rohr would say the Enneagram, if understood well, has the qualities of a mirror–a reflection that also tells a parable.

Jesus throughout the gospels taught in parables. He did so because he knew that there was an epidemic of people thinking they could see and hear but in reality, their hearts were blind and deaf. They would be around Jesus, hear his words, and be moved into contemplation but in the end, they would eventually be unmoved, unchanged, and unimpressed–and they fell away.

Likewise, if any of us takes the Enneagram with the expectation that it will tell us who we are and then, we will rejoice in that discovery, then we have misunderstood the purpose.

But when we look into the Enneagram with the anticipation of finding embarrassment and vice, then we are on the right path.

Richard Rohr recounts his first foray into the Enneagram as a sobering a-ha experience. His first feelings were not of elation or confirmation but resistance and humiliation. He wasn’t exploring personality profiles as he initially thought; he was studying paradigms of dysfunction, uniquely his own.

He’s a ONE (so am I). And he discovered that ones want to be right above anything else. Principles, creeds, values. All had to line up and cohere. But as he continued diving into his reflection as a ONE, a dark truth was realized. His pontifications, his principled crusades, his high morals were just as much in the interest of “self,” the ego, as much as it was about objective moral perfection. That’s the classic falseness of ONEs: a veil of perfection to hide the imperfection underneath.

The realization of this truth became a discovery of embarrassment, not an elation of triumph and joy.

But Richard Rohr says this is the path. This is how you know you’re on the right track of truth and freedom. When you identify with a number, does it bring you relief or does it bring you humiliation?

Culture

Generation Z


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Recently, Barna and Impact 360 Institute co-presented their research findings on “Generation Z,” those born between 1999-2015. They asked this particular group of young people about faith, home life, relationships, technological habits, political beliefs, and much, much more.

They also released their Generation Z report, which I am excited to dive into.

 

genz
Gen Z: The Culture, Beliefs, and Motivations Shaping the Next Generation

 

Generation Z is fascinating. They are the first real “digital natives” in human history, never knowing a world without interactive screens, social media, high-speed internet, and Google. In their youth, they have already experienced significant life events like the dawn of Facebook (2004) and the Apple iPhone (2007), the housing crisis of 2008, the election of this nation’s first black president, and the legalization of gay marriage (2015).

Generation Z has had the potential to consume more bits of information from a broader spectrum of sources and mediums than any other generation in history because of the internet. They get their news, not from CNN, NBC, or their local newspaper, instead, from Twitter and Facebook. They have been influenced by Pewdiepie, Casey Neistat, and Liza Koshy, some of the most popular content creators on Youtube, as much as Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Brad Pitt, and other A-list celebrities.

Generation Z is approximately 70,000,000 people, more substantial than their predecessors, the Millennial generation. And the oldest of them are now just entering their college years. This means we are now about to experience the beginnings of their tremendous potential. Soon, they will become the influencers and activators of our modern cultural milieu. They will rise to become the leaders of the various sectors of our society. They will be the inventors and creators of the next Facebook or Youtube.

I am excited to learn as an educator and minister about our new overlords. This generation, more than any previous, will be better equipped to make a tremendous change in our world and wield technology and communications more skillfully. But what about their beliefs? What about their faith? What about their values? I am looking forward to how the next 20 years are shaped.

 

 

Opinion

The great letter from Birmingham and the lessons I have learned


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Every year around this time, one of the most important ways that I celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. is by reading a letter he penned within a jail cell in the heart of Birmingham, Alabama on April 16, 1963.

There is something strangely haunting about this letter. Maybe because I am fascinated by the courage it takes for a man to voluntarily travel into the lion’s den of racial injustice. Or the wit one needs to write such beautiful and compelling words while trapped alone within a cell. Maybe because it is as relevant today as it was in the days of his life. But no matter how many times I read this modern day epistle, I always find myself reflecting deeply on the brokenness of our culture and history and the courage that it takes to fight it.

Here are some truths that I have personally gleaned from this letter:

1. To fight for justice means to be opposed on every side.

Dr. King writes to “my fellow clergymen” and early in the letter, he explains why he has felt the need to respond. He’s writing, not to hypocrites nor enemies, but to “genuine men of good will”–fellow members of the same faith.

And as I have studied his life and his words, I realize that he spent just as much energy, maybe even more, engaging with those “within” as he did with those who were outside and “opposed.”

Dr. King was criticized certainly by his enemies but also by his supposed allies too. Some blamed him for the escalating hostility. Some blamed him for being too fanatical and extreme. Some, skeptical of his motives and intentions. But all agreed that he was unwavering, unavoidable, and unruly to injustice all the way until the end.

What’s fascinating to me, and this letter brings it out very clearly, is that one of his most regular oppositions was not those who were motivated by hate, jealousy, fear, or power, but those who were motivated by sensibilities. Dr. King would use many strategies to catalyze his message and mission but one thing that he would never do was compromise or negotiate for lesser justice.

And I think that creates enemies on all sides. And that reminds us that if we are to stand up for goodness and justice, then we need to account for two things: we cannot get in bed with injustice on any level and we will be criticized by evil and by the sensible, and possibly even those with “good” intentions.

2. Justice is defined only in the character of God

Dr. King was a man of faith. He was also a student of the history of his faith. He is often credited with the quote, “an unjust law is no law at all,” but if you read the letter, he is borrowing it from the great Christian thinker St. Thomas Aquinas.

Today, we are a world fractured in our understanding of justice. How do you determine what is good versus evil?

Many in Dr. King’s days may have accused him of pursuing noble ends in vigilante ways for much of his deeds were disobedient to the laws of those days.

But here is what he writes:

How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality.

Dr. King was unabashedly clear. There is only one way to determine whether to obey or disobey a law, and it wasn’t his. For him, God’s law was the only “north star” on his quest for justice.

For me, how to live with integrity and a good conscience is increasingly difficult. The waters have been stirred and I am seeing double all the time. Do I act? Do I not? Do I speak up? Or do I silently persevere? Some of my friends have chosen one or the other. Can I blame either? Some of my fellow faithful have spoken poorly or irresponsibly. Am I to cleave fellowship?

3. The true church is the church within the church.

Like a true prophet, Dr. King wrote this all those years ago,

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

The authentic, sacrificial, just church is becoming rarer than ever. And because of that, we are migrating away from institutional religion and cultural Christianity.

But there is hope, and Dr. King shares it:

 I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom. They have left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us. They have gone down the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone to jail with us. Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. Their witness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the gospel in these troubled times. They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment. I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom.

God is faithful. He will always be with the true ekklesia because he is the true hope of the world. And today, I honor not just Martin Luther King but all those who followed Christ and broke away from conformity, security, power, and comfort to fight for freedom and justice.