JBU Stories: The Gathering - Micah Herrmann

The heart of JBU is our people. Here are their stories.

JBU factoid

Micah Herrmann is a math major and soccer player at JBU. 

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In this special edition of JBU Stories, Micah Herrmann tackles relationships, busyness, and rest.

 

Show Transcript

Julie Gumm:

Welcome to the JBU Stories podcast. I'm your host, Julie Gumm, director of university marketing and communications at John Brown University. This fall and spring, we're doing something different on the podcast because, Hey, what isn't different this year. In 2002, JBU started a weekly Sunday night chapel service called The Gathering. It's completely student-led and features testimonials from our seniors. It's definitely a student favorite, but COVID-19 protocols prevent us from hosting the typical gathering. Instead, we're bringing the students' testimonials to the JBU Stories podcast in this special series.

Genesis Ramirez:

Hi, I'm Genesis Ramirez, and welcome to JBU Stories, The Gathering series. This is a podcast where we will hear testimonies from some of our inspired senior students about how God has been faithfully working in their lives. And in these unpredictable times, we hope these words from JBU students will encourage you in your relationship with Christ. So for this first episode, we have the privileged to hear from Micah Herrmann. Micah is a math major with an emphasis on actuarial science. He's from Stillwater, Oklahoma, and plays on the soccer team here at JBU. Micah will be sharing about the trap of an overloaded schedule, and a busy life, and how to find rest in God. So please, let's welcome Micah Herrmann.

Micah Herrmann:

Yeah. Thank you so much for that intro, and thank you to everyone that's listening. I really appreciate you all taking the time. I'm super excited to get the chance to speak on a topic that has been a huge struggle for me in my life. And I know it's a big problem for really all college students, and that is, as she mentioned, the overloaded schedule and a busy lifestyle. So I'll go ahead and get into it. So starting with just a dictionary definition of busy. Busy is having a great deal to do or to be occupied. And when I look at that definition, what stands out to me about it is that it applies to everyone, right. All college students are busy. I mean, it's impossible not to fit into the definition of busy. We have clubs, jobs, parties, seminars, certifications, extra credit opportunities, intramurals.

Micah Herrmann:

I mean, there's an unlimited number of ways to get busy. But I think it's summed up well when you think about our conversation. When we're walking through the hall, and we see a friend and they reach out to us, and they say, "Hey, how are you?" Our common response is often like, "I'm good, but I'm just busy." And we are busy. But what's the problem with being busy? And that's what I want to get at. So I want to start off with a quote from Stephen Covey. He says that, "People expect us to be busy and overworked. It's become a status symbol in our society. If we are busy, we are important. If we are not busy, we are embarrassed to admit it. Busyness is where we get our security. It's validating popular and pleasing. It's also a good excuse for not dealing with the first things in our life."

Micah Herrmann:

And so, when he says that last line, "It's also a good excuse for not dealing with the first things in our lives." What he's talking about there is he's talking about relationships. And that's where the problem with busyness comes is that we often end up cutting out relationships when we get too busy. But don't just take his word for it. I want to get into the scripture and see what Jesus has to say about it as well, of course. So I'm going to read the story of Mary and Martha, and I'm sure most of you have probably heard the story. But this time, I want you to really focus on the specific actions of what Mary and Martha are doing.

Micah Herrmann:

So starting in Luke 10 verse 38, it says, "Jesus came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet, listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, 'Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me.' 'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'" Okay. So when we look at the action of Martha, it says that she was preparing. And if you look into that word, what it's generally understood is that she was cooking a meal for Jesus and his disciples. So it's not like Martha was trying to be the perfect party planner and get the streamers just right and set up a Spotify playlist for the night or anything like that.

Micah Herrmann:

She was just preparing a meal. She was doing something that was very important. And she was doing some that seemed good. But what was Jesus' response to all of her hard work? "Martha, Martha, the Lord answered you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed or indeed only one." So the point of the story is that it doesn't really matter that she's doing something that's important because she's neglecting the thing that's the most important. And that's her relationship with Jesus. And so often, I think we do the same thing in our lives. I think we work really hard on good things. I mean, sometimes we work on it on bad things too, but usually, it's the good things. We're not doing things that are necessarily wrong. It's just that we get so caught up in so many good things that we miss out on relationships.

Micah Herrmann:

And I know this has definitely been the case for me in my life. In fact, that's really why I'm speaking on this topic because I've definitely seen that. So I want to share one example from my personal life. Actually, my freshman year of college, I was living at home with my dad, who was actually in a battle with brain cancer at the time. And so, I was at Oklahoma State. So I'm a transfer. I transferred my sophomore year here to JBU, and that's a whole nother story. It was a real blessing, but from the moment I stepped on campus at OSU, my freshman year, I just had a really hard time saying no. So my freshman year, I got involved in a trillion clubs. I mean, I could name a few like president's leadership clubs, soccer clubs, sustainability, honors, college, freshmen representative, actuarial club, activity fee occasion.

Micah Herrmann:

I mean, you could pretty much just like make it the name of a club, and I was probably in it. But the problem wasn't necessarily the clubs. The problem was that it was kind of a sort of trophy for me. "Oh, I can be in all these clubs, and still get a good GPA. And I have a superior of time management skills." And it was like a source of pride. I felt like I was kind of better than other people because I could do all of this. And that was where the issue came in. But I didn't realize that until I'd say actually, the last day of my freshman year, I had three finals and super stressed out just studying like a mad man. And actually, early the next morning, before my finals, my dad passed away from brain cancer. And don't get me wrong.

Micah Herrmann:

I lived at home. This isn't a sad story. So it's not like I never saw my dad that last year. I lived at home. But it did make me rethink my priorities. I think looking back, I would have spent less time on clubs and I would have spent more time with my family in this difficult time. So the point is that just because you can do it all doesn't mean you should do it all, right. And my second point is that when you overextend yourself, relationships suffer. You don't realize it, but whenever you're really busy, usually what gets cut out is relationships. And so I hope that this story makes you rethink your time priorities like it did make me rethink mine. I'm going to go ahead and call a time out though on the message because I want to make sure you don't get the wrong idea of... so what I'm not saying is to stop studying, play call of duty with the bros all day, and just don't get involved on campus, and pull up social media, and just basically chill.

Micah Herrmann:

Because when we think of not being busy, a lot of times, what we think about is just kind of chilling on the couch and watching TV. But that's actually the opposite because when you're filling your time with these activities of a slugger like social media and Netflix, you're still busy. You're still filling your time. You're still occupied. But the problem is that you're filling your time in the wrong way. So that's not at all what I'm looking for. I think you do need to work hard. But what I am saying is that there has to be a balance here. And so, I'm going to read a list of things that you should have time to do, and if you don't, then changes are necessary to your schedule. So you should have time to call your parents and grandparents and loved ones. You should have time to start or join a Bible study with your housemates.

Micah Herrmann:

You should have time to celebrate with your friends when something good happens and mourn with your friends when something bad happens. You should have time to serve others. And most importantly, you should have time to spend alone with God and prayer and in the word. And if not, changes are necessary to your schedule. For me, the change that I had to make is, I extended my graduation date another semester. For you, maybe you just need to stop idolizing your GPA. I know my physics professor here at JBU, Dr. Hahn. He said something that would always stick with me. He said, "It would be a sin for some of you to get an A in this class." And that really stuck out to me because professors are usually pushing you to the limit to get an A. And he said, "No, for some of you, it would be a sin for you to get an A." Maybe that's the case for you.

Micah Herrmann:

Maybe you need to unsubscribe from Netflix or just simply set aside a chunk of your day, specifically for relationships with Jesus and with others. Whatever you decide, it's going to be a sacrifice, but I promise it's necessary. So I hope that as the semester wears on, you feel trapped and with finals and projects, and you just feel trapped in your schedule. I pray that you'll take Jesus' advice. When he says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Let us pray. Heavenly father. I pray for all those who feel like they are too deep into time commitments to get out. I pray for everyone who's feeling pressured to do more from parents, advisers, coaches, and themselves. I pray for everyone worried about their grades and filling their resume. Lord, through all these things, convict us to value relationships over our busy schedule. I pray that you would take away our desire to do more good things in order that we may spend more time on the most important thing, our relationship with you. God, we love you, and we praise you. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Genesis Ramirez:

Thank you so much for that message, Micah. And it was so powerful and so important, especially at this point of school. We're busy. We're tired. We're worn out, and it's tempting too. First, we hear all the time, "I need to get things done."

Micah Herrmann:

Yeah.

Genesis Ramirez:

"And need to do all these things." And so, it's tempting first to put our identity and our performance in what we do. And then what you were saying, missed out on our priorities. How much time am I spending with my friends and my family? And even with God. Am I still talking to him? And then avoiding getting trapped in that busy schedule. So yeah, I really appreciate, appreciate your story and your testimony. So now, I just want to transition to a time of questions. But before we do that, I have a question. It's kind of out of the topic. Let's talk about this actuarial science. This emphasis that you're studying. How is it that you became interested in that?

Micah Herrmann:

Yeah, yeah. So, it's super nerdy basically. But basically, I like accounting and finance, but there weren't enough math involved for me because I really enjoy calculus and statistical analysis more. So what actuaries do is they do risk management, primarily for insurance companies. And there's a lot of programming, math, statistics, as well as finance that goes into the job. So it seemed like a good fit for me. So I was able to talk to my math professors and my finance professors here at JBU, and it was actually pretty cool. They were able to set up a curriculum that can help me out to pass my certification exam. So, I'm probably the only person at JBU or at least the first person. I think there's more now, actually, which is kind of cool. But I think it was the first person to have an emphasis in actuarial science. But that's what it is. And I love it.

Genesis Ramirez:

Yeah, no, that's very interesting. And that's what I was going to say. I don't think I've heard that very often here on campus, so that's cool. Yeah. That's very awesome. Okay. So let's just start with the first question. I loved this quote from Stephen Covey that you mentioned, and I'm just going to quote it. The part where he says that, "If we're busy, we're important, and if we're not busy, we're embarrassed to admit it." So my question is, how can we begin tearing down these ideas about pride and busyness, especially because they're so ingrained in our society?

Micah Herrmann:

Yeah, it's definitely hard because, like you said, they are so ingrained in our society. But I think you have to look at... you have to find the root cause of the desire to be busy and it's different for every person. But for me, I shared about my freshman year, and the root cause for that was there was an award called the top 10 freshmen. And my brother and my sister got it. And so, of course, I wanted to be a top 10 freshmen at OSU.

Genesis Ramirez:

Yeah.

Micah Herrmann:

So that was kind of my root... the root cause of my desire to be busy. For other people, maybe it's GPA, money, some sort of award but maybe just to look good for your friends. But once you find the root cause, then you can look at that root cause and see, "Is that worth what I'm missing out on just to look good in society's eyes." So I think that's a good place to start, at least.

Genesis Ramirez:

Mm-hmm. Actually, that's really good. Especially because often times we find... we come up with these very superficial solutions to a greater problem such as going to the root of it. That's really good. Yeah. My second question, and now that we're talking about relationships and prioritizing relationships is even when leave time with... to spend with my family and friends, my mind for some reason is still thinking about that one paper that I need to finish, or what am I going to have for dinner or what am I going to do after graduation? All these things, going on in my head. So how can we not only set time to invest in relationships but also be present in those?

Micah Herrmann:

Yeah, that's probably my biggest issue. I know I used to have a friend that would tell me that I have two miles in one year. So, I think listening is the biggest deal, and that's what I struggle with. But not just listening but active listening. There's a difference between just sitting there and hearing and actually listening well and trying to look to ask questions. I know the people that I have the deepest conversations with are the people that are the best at asking questions. So really, when you're with someone, put down your phone, listen really well, and think about what questions you can ask to go just a little bit deeper.

Genesis Ramirez:

Yeah, absolutely. That's really good. And then, still talking about relationships. I also wanted to mention the story of Mary and Martha and the way you call it Martha moments. So sometimes, the things that we consider most important, not always aligned with God's most important things. So how has the Lord guided you to pursue the things that are most important?

Micah Herrmann:

Yeah, absolutely. Growing up for me, I always heard that there's only three things that lasts forever. So I think it's just really important to keep an internal perspective. Because I always heard this story that the only things that lasts forever is people, God, and the Bible.

Genesis Ramirez:

Yeah.

Micah Herrmann:

And so those are the things that you should prioritize, right. And you should prioritize reading the Bible and being in a relationship with each other, and then obviously your relationship with God. So the idea is that if those are the only things that lasts forever, then that's what you should be doing. But I mean, it's not perfect because, obviously there's things like getting a job, getting sleep.

Genesis Ramirez:

Right.

Micah Herrmann:

Eating that don't fall into that category. They aren't eternal, but you have to do them. But I think it's a good starting place. When you look at your extra time when deciding what's most important to pursue is. Is this eternally beneficial, basically?

Genesis Ramirez:

Yeah. Yeah. That's so good. And that sets the tone because if I'm pursuing God and people and family, that's also... going back to what you talked about, the root cause that sets the tone for that. I wake up, and the first thing I do, okay. I'm going to talk to God. And that just sets the tone for what's coming after in my day, pursuing the eternal perspective that you said. That's really interesting. One more question that I had is with this pandemic, how has this pandemic been an opportunity for you to find rest in God?

Micah Herrmann:

Yeah, well, like a lot of people, I had a lot of free time in March, April, May. Whenever we were on pretty strict lockdown. And so, I even thought about changing my topic for this message because I was originally creating it in March or April.

Genesis Ramirez:

Mm-hmm.

Micah Herrmann:

And I was like, "Ah, maybe I need to change it because people aren't busy anymore." But what I found is, it's kind of as good of an opportunity as you make it, right.

Genesis Ramirez:

Right.

Micah Herrmann:

Because a lot of times we... even though we have free time, we'll just fill it with binge-watching and video games. So, it was good for me. I'd say I got to spend some extra time with my mom, which was really special. And I got to do some reading, which was really restful. But so I'd say I felt recharged. But I think you got to be careful when you have extra time to make sure you make the most of it. And so we got the next two months... we got two months at home for a lot of us coming up here with Christmas break. So I would just encourage you all to find what ways you can just find rest in that two months as opposed to binging another TV.

Genesis Ramirez:

Yeah. Right. No, that's really good. And one last question. What would be one last piece of advice that you would give to our listeners and especially knowing the time where we are in the school and those who struggle with time management and also having to say no, that's hard.

Micah Herrmann:

Yeah. So for people that... I'll start with the second part. So people that struggle to say no. My advice to you would be that when you say yes to something, like a time obligation, you're really saying no to something else, right, because we're all limited to 24-hours a day.

Genesis Ramirez:

Right.

Micah Herrmann:

So by saying yes, you're actually saying no to something else. And so, my final advice would be, take a look at your schedule and find out where you're spending all your time and discuss it with your friends and with others and see what changes you need to make to your schedule based on that.

Genesis Ramirez:

Mm-hmm. That's really good. Well, that's all for this episode. Thank you so much, Micah, again for this powerful, powerful message. And for sharing your testimony. I really appreciate that. And also, thank you guys for listening, and just make sure you tell your friends about The Gathering podcast and encourage them to listen. And also, I encourage you to follow JBU Student Ministries Leadership team on Instagram @jbusmlt and stay tuned for our next speaker.