On Friday night we had the privilege of having the Vice Chancellor of the University of Sydney, Rev. Dr. Michael Spence, speak to a small gathering of Christians and non-Christians in Bondi. The topic was how to cope with the busyness of life in such a way that we can also enjoy it! In a very open way, perhaps epitomized by admitting to singing ‘Jesus Take the Wheel’ in the shower, Dr. Spence spoke compellingly about how his busy life – managing a university with 20,000+ staff and 60,000+ students, along with raising six children! – has taught him two important things.
Firstly, that he’s not God. So many of us have a tendency to try to fix things; but our busyness, as well as the difficulties of life, make it clear that we can’t. And learning this is a really freeing thing, because then we can get on with living life even when we can’t control what we’d like to control. It’s about expectations: if we don’t expect to be able to achieve and control everything, we’ll be alright when we don’t.
Secondly, that he’s loved by God. That everyone is a loved creation of God means that even when we fail and when those we love fail, we are nonetheless deeply valued. For Dr. Spence, that truth gives shape to how he goes about his challenging work, forcing him to acknowledge that students wearing t-shirts emblazoned with “!%&* Michael Spence” are no less valuable to God than he is. It moves him to seek solutions that are satisfactory for all sides in any disputed matter.
The night was a great success, and produced several encouraging conversations. One non-Christian who was present remarked at the wisdom of what Dr. Spence had to say, and commented that ‘Jesus is really important; I just need to line a few more things up…’ Senior Minister Martin Morgan commented that Dr. Spence had picked up on the kinds of things that Bondi residents are ‘twitchy’ about: the desire to make life look a certain way, coupled with the knowledge that making it so isn’t in their power.