Russell and Duenes

Pete Rose Jr., Become Indispensable, and Where You Find Yourself

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As often happens in stories where there’s a father and son, Kostya Kennedy’s book on Pete Rose spends a good deal of time exploring the relationship between Rose and Pete Rose Jr. (“Petey”). Or should I say, exploring the impact the father’s life has on the son. How could Pete Jr. not grow up idolizing his father? Rose had put a bat in his son’s hands before the kid could walk. Pete Jr. spent much of his childhood hanging around the Reds’ dugout, picking up on his father’s enthusiasm, and taking in the finer points of the game. As one might expect, Pete Jr. was quite the young ballplayer himself, inviting the inevitable comparisons with his dad. Pete Jr. was eventually drafted by the Baltimore Orioles around the time his dad was neck-deep in baseball’s investigation into his gambling activities. Indeed, Rose went to jail for tax evasion early in Pete Jr.’s minor league career (the length of which was astounding, as minor league careers go.). You can imagine how that went for the son, for Pete Rose Sr. was not the kind of person that baseball “fans” are ambivalent about. No matter where Rose Jr. played, he was subjected to unrelenting harassment and heckling, based on nothing he’d ever done, but on the sins of his father alone. Certainly, Rose Jr. might never have been a legitimate big league ballplayer even if his father had been the next Mister Rogers, but we’ll never know. Living in the shadow of your father, when your father is Pete Rose, is not easy, and it just shows again the massive, incalculable impact that father’s have on their children (The story of Fawn Rose, Pete’s daughter, comes in for very little treatment in the book; but this sentence pretty much sums it up: “As the years went on, Fawn often seemed forgotten by Pete – an afterthought, and heartbreakingly so.”). A father’s impact is one which our culture downplays to much human destruction and ruin.

My wife passed along a piece of sage advice from Cal Newport’s blog. Newport was quoting Mike Rowe, who said: Stop looking for the “right” career, and start looking for a job. Any job. Forget about what you like. Focus on what’s available. Get yourself hired. Show up early. Stay late. Volunteer for the scut work. Become indispensable. You can always quit later, and be no worse off than you are today. But don’t waste another year looking for a career that doesn’t exist. The words, “Become indispensable” shot through me, and I took them to work with me all last week, into every task I attempted. This is fantastic stuff. I’m working in the energy sector now. Do I have a “passion” for energy? No! Is it the “thing I’ve always wanted to do?” Not even close. But when I was in law school, contemplating what classes to take during my second year, I decided to take Oil and Gas Law, on nothing more than the encouragement of my study group leader who was then taking it. Oil and Gas was by far my lowest grade in law school, so I up and enrolled in the advanced Oil and Gas class the following semester, and did better. I took Water Law, too; and now I’m working in public utilities (thanks in great part to my Oil and Gas professor). What’s more, I intend to give my employer the best that I’ve got, with heartiness, “as unto the Lord,” as God commands. Will I become indispensable? I don’t know, and it would likely be arrogant to assume that I will. But what I can do is aim to become so. And I will indeed aim for this, Lord willing, not for my own vainglory and self-promotion, but because each day is “a great day to be alive,” as my friend, Rod Howard, so often says. It’s a way to take the gifts God has given me and put them to redemptive effect in this world. It’s a way that work will become satisfying, because it will be in accord with the purposes for which God created us, and it’s end, if faithfully done, will be an inheritance from the Lord. Rowe is right when he says, “Happiness does not come from a job. It comes from knowing what you truly value, and behaving in a way that’s consistent with those beliefs.” And one can behave in this way at countless types of jobs. You can read Rowe’s whole piece here.

I was musing with a friend the other day about the decision to go to law school, and it reminded me of how, in the Lord’s providence, we find ourselves in unexpected places. In the summer of 2010, I was gearing up for the thought of PhD. work. I began studying for the GRE exam, and kind of threw the LSAT in as an after-thought. But as my wife and I considered things more, we realized that I should take the LSAT and the possibility of law school much more seriously. At that point, there was certainly no thought of living in Kansas, much less in a city like Topeka, nor of working as an attorney for a state public utilities commission. That was not even in the universe of my thinking. Yet here I am, doing just that, and quite glad about it. It’s still a weird feeling, but I’m anxious to see what God does with it.

-D

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Written by Michael Duenes

August 9, 2014 at 12:37 pm

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