Rehabilitate Your Interpretation of the World


Some research indicates that a person's worldview is determined by age thirteen.[1] Mine was pretty much in place when I was fourteen and my newspaper manager came to our house to fire me. I was no profile in courage; I had been sloppy on my route and had received too many complaints. My primary transgression was spending my collection money before I paid my bill to the newspaper manager. There I sat with my mother, my paper manager, and my sister. My mother was humiliated, my manager was disappointed, and my sister was delighted that I had finally been caught at something. I usually laughed out loud when called before authorities. I didn't that day, but I still had a smirk on my face. Exasperated with my demeanor, the manager yelled at me, "Bill, what are you going to do with yourself?" I lived on the brink of disaster. I was failing in school, I was academically ineligible for freshman basketball, and I was hanging out with some questionable characters. Earlier that year I had been kicked out of school for cutting lunch, and I had also run away from home for a night.

The Bonhoeffer Project's main goal is to get those who want to be disciple-making leaders into a "cohort," which is a year-long leadership development community. Learn more and apply here.

My answer to his question was all the more audacious in light of the context. "My plan," I said confidently, "is to attend college on a basketball scholarship." Then it was his turn to smirk. Only four out of every one hundred thousand boys who play high school basketball play college basketball on a scholarship, and I was not even on the freshman squad at my school. But I knew something my newspaper manager didn't. Even though I was ineligible to play basketball, I practiced at least one hour a day, no matter what, and I was good—better than the players on the freshman team.

I would summarize my worldview as follows:

  1. You must do it yourself; don't count on others.
  2. If you want something, you can get it if you outwork everyone, even those who may be smarter or more gifted than you.
  3. If I don't get a basketball scholarship, I will not be able to attend college, and I will need to get a job or join the army.
  4. Religion is too restrictive. I want to enjoy life, and Christians don't have any fun.

My view of the world and how it worked was shaped by my upbringing. My mother, sister, and I lived with my grandparents because my father left us (or was run off, depending on whom you talk to). I never met him. My mother was hard-working, very loving, and went out on dates, despite my grandparents' disapproval. Her take-home pay was $39 a week. The first twelve years of my life, we attended a Holiness church in Indianapolis, Indiana. I reacted so strongly to the legalism and drab lifestyle that I didn't attend another church service until I was twenty-one. And then only because of a beautiful girl.

It was when I started playing on a team that I first knew I was different. I would look around at basketball practice or at games and see fathers of the other players. My mother came to see me play a few times when she could get a ride with her boyfriend. But after he was seriously injured in an automobile accident, she was not able to attend any more games. I played four years of college basketball and three years for Athletes in Action, and my mother never saw me play. This reinforced my belief that my life was mine to make. I was on my own.

This part of my worldview still explains my some of behavior today. Rather than compete in the crowd, I prefer to go away by myself and compete on my own terms. I am more comfortable doing things on my own than depending on others. The value of hard work, discipline, and a clear goal is deeply engrained in me, along with the idea that if I want something done I must do it myself. My significant life decisions were run through this filter, consequently I chose a writing career over a more conventional academic life because I wanted to control what I studied. Whenever I wanted to break out of an institutional model I created a new ministry. I have always enjoyed the freedom of launching out into the deep, creating the funding and leading the charge. Even my decision ten years ago to spend the rest of my life writing and teaching was rooted in my worldview.

Written by Bill Hull


[1] "Barna Survey Examines Changes in Worldview Among Christians Over the Past Thirteen Years," Barna Group, March 6, 2009, 21-transformation/252-barna-survey-examines-changes-in-worldview-among-christians-over-the-past-13-years#.UebxFW1byxM.

Written by Bill Hull

Taken from The Christian Leader by Bill Hull. Copyright © 2016 by Robert W. Hull. Used by permission of Zondervan.

Photo by Denny Müller on Unsplash

Bill Hull