Monty Self is a certified health care ethics consultant and senior staff chaplain at the Baptist Health Medical Center Little in Rock, Arkansas.
1. What story, verse or passage from your faith tradition’s sacred text has significantly influenced/ shaped your life?
“For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
This simple verse illustrates the spirit of Jesus, and also it is the perfect pattern of ministry. We are not here to be seen or to receive glory. We are here to serve and minister to others.
We may do earth-shattering things or be the top in our field, but it is all meaningless if our accomplishments are not rooted in giving ourselves to others and representing Jesus Christ.
2. Who are three people (other than your family) who have shaped your life and worldview? And why?
Byron Eubanks, my undergraduate philosophy professor. I took Logic and Symbolic Logic with him. I think I barely passed the latter, but he still gave me one of the greatest gifts in my life. He gave me the freedom to figure stuff out for myself. It was never enough that I took a position. I had to have a functional argument for it.
David Smith, the Palliative Care Physician and Chair of the Ethics Committee at my hospital. In short, he believed in me. He encouraged me to become a certified health care ethics consultant. He has also encouraged me to present at conferences, become a legislative advocate and write. It is shocking the great impact simply telling someone that “they can do it” has.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran pastor who openly argued against the Nazis during World War II. Unlike most clergy at the time, he was willing to openly speak out against the evil atrocities. While others conformed, fled or hid, he chose to take a stand –ultimately one that would take his life. He suffered greatly for his convictions, but his belief system demanded action. We need more of this these days.
3. List three of your “desert island” books, movies or TV shows.
Firefly (TV series): “May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.” – Malcome Reynolds
Michael Curtiz’s “Casablanca”: “If we stop breathing, we’ll die. If we stop fighting our enemies, the world will die.” – Victor Laszlo
Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather”: “Great men are not born great, they grow great.” – Vito Corleone
4. What is one of the most critical issues people are facing today?
In our modern age, we are bombarded with thousands of choices, but we rarely make decisions based on our true authentic selves. We all have convictions that we hold dear, but rarely do we insist that our actions match those beliefs.
Most people I know will verbally renounce racism, but we see inequities everywhere. It is a personal identity disconnect.
Our behavior does not always match our internal belief system, so we end up living disjointed and inauthentic lives. It all stems from fear. We are afraid to live out what we believe.
5. What are a few of your hobbies?
Cooking, ballroom dance and origami. Do not laugh. That stuff is hard. They are all an art form, and even if you spend a lifetime, you will still have not reached perfection.
6. If you could freeze your life into an already-lived 10 second, what would they be?
The night after one of the roughest professional periods in my life, my wife sat on the sofa holding my hand and said, “No one but us will even know what you did or what you sacrificed. I doubt you even know. It is unlikely you will ever be thanked or recognized, but what you did was the right thing regardless of the consequences.”
7. Our tagline at Good Faith Media is, “There’s more to tell.” What’s your “more to tell?”
I want to see people have freedom, real freedom, the kind the founding fathers of the U.S. envisioned. We so often miss their message.
We wrongly think of a right to carry a gun or attend a worship service or even write an angry letter to the editor as freedom. What the founding fathers envisioned was a freedom to live, think and figure out life.
It is not enough to know what you believe. We need the freedom to explore why we believe it and how that impacts our real everyday lives. We need the freedom to make mistakes.
Freedom comes at a cost. We have to discover who we are as individuals and as a people. Then, we have to take responsibility for that freedom.
It is way bigger than a right to do something. It is freedom from being trapped or controlled. This starts with figuring out who we are and what we believe.
Reflection and resources at the intersection of faith and culture through an inclusive Christian lens.