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We talk about our backgrounds and motivation for doing this podcast, and why the practice of faith seems so prevalent among open source developers.

Transcript

Nadia: 00:00 So we decided start recording some conversations about open source and faith because both of us have sort of noticed in our work around open source, there’re a lot of open source developers that had some sort of connection to faith. Often, I think, Christian faith, and I think for both of us we were sort of wondering why that was. We have pretty different backgrounds in terms of our connection, our personal connection to faith. Henry, do you want to talk a little bit about yours first and then I’ll talk about mine?

Henry: 00:29 Yeah. Uh, rea- real short I guess. I am a Christian and I didn’t grow up Christian but I guess I mostly started pursuing it after college and going into working, and then yeah, I think, I’ve just known as through, you know, getting involved in open source, just a lot of parallels with what what we do in church and, and our faith background. Stuff like that, and I- I didn’t hear a lot of people talking about it but it does seem like it’s kind of, like, underlying a lot of stuff. So I- I think it would be really interesting to talk more about it explicitly.

Nadia: 01:06 I’m not religious, but I guess I’ve had a background of just being maybe more like academically interested in it, um, since I don’t even know when. Um, I went to a Quaker high school which was definitely really influential for me in terms of, like Quakers have a really strong background in public service and community service, and activism, and things like that. So that definitely has fed into my understanding of faith and religion and community. But yeah, I don’t know … I guess I’m just sort of like weirdly interested in this topic because it’s just fascinated me that especially for me working in tech in San Francisco, I feel like I almost never interact with faith or religion among my peers at all, in my sort of like geographic location. But it seems like in open source for some reason, it’s a much more prominent theme.

Henry: 02:01 Yeah. That’s really interesting that you said … Like, it’s like, because open source is, you know, it could be global then maybe it kind of y- you see a lot different kind of people and not just like tech in San Francisco but, you know, in New York or all of these other places. It’s, like, yeah … it’s spread out all over.

Nadia: 02:18 Yeah. It’s sort of nice and like restorative almost, I think to get to talk about these topics, um, in open source more than I feel like I do day-to-day in San Francisco. And I don’t really know why that is. I guess I had thought of it … Maybe you’re right, that it’s just a geographic difference. I thought of it as also just people might be attracted to open source for similar reasons that they might be attracted to some sort of faith or spiritual practice. Um, I feel like I’m sort of mixing all these terms of faith, spirituality, religion, and those are all each, actually, kind of different things, but the aspects of faith that I think are really present in open source are around community organizing, and also just a sense of service, of sort of like, giving something to other people without expecting anything in return, for the benefit of some sort of greater good.

Henry: 03:09 Right. Yeah, I think that’s the thing that kind of … Well, I gave a talk on this in SF, on Zeit Day, but a lot of the … The way I got started in open source wasn’t because I thought it was about community or, or like, serving people. I thought it was, it was just cool that people are working together and I use stuff and it’s- it would be nice to be able to like, say, that you worked on some project. So it was … It, it came from a pretty selfish point of view of wanting to be involved in something bigger, but later, I guess, growing into not just being a contributor, but a maintainer, I realized the, you know, h- how, like, fundamentally it’s all about people, and the maintainers themselves, is a big part of that. Not just, like, the code stuff.

Nadia: 04:00 What’s the reaction been like when you’ve given talks in that realm or just talked to other people about it?

Henry: 04:06 Uh, yeah. Actually, so that’s, that’s funny cause in my mind it’s maybe like what you said. It’s really surprising at the, almost, you know, positive feedback I’ve gotten. I’ve definitely … I haven’t really gotten anything negative from anyone about it. And maybe this is just cause I’m just sharing my story and sharing, um, you know, personal thoughts. I’m not, like, trying to convince anyone of anything. It’s just recognizing what, like, shared, um, you know, agreed values or parallels in, in both. Um, and kind of like what you said, I really like the word you used. Restorative. It- I don’t know. It’s like a … It’s just a different aspect of technology and programming that I don’t see other than in open source, right?

Henry: 04:53 It’s like, it, it feels like all this, all this stuff in technology’s about, like, you know, making things, like, better for yourself or making money, and just, like, I don’t know … Very materialistic and robotic, in a sense. And yet … and this is more about, you know, helping others, and not necessarily thinking about yourself.

Nadia: 05:20 Yeah, I think it, it ties really closely to that sense of instrinsic motivation that we see a lot in open source. Um, and I wonder why … I wonder why people are so en- er- I- I feel like, for both of us, we’ve had these experiences of not being sure how other people will take it if we talk about faith and, I guess, a more, like, not professional context, but just, you know, not among, like, very close friends. Um, and I wonder why that is. Like, I wonder why it makes us, like … Why- why does this perceive to be such an uncomfortable topic when it’s also something that seems to really drive a lot of people in some shape or form or it’s something that they, they do and care, and believe in. Um …

Henry: 06:01 I guess it’s people have their own experiences with, with that, and other perceptions and, um, it’s hard to, like, differentiate, um, like, the kind of faith that’s shown in open source is very different from what you might see on, in media, or, like, that kind of stuff. Um, and I know. Yeah. It’s definitely, feels weird, but I don’t know. I feel like the more I, I talk about it, I feel more not confident. It just, like, more willing to share, um, like … I think, uh, yeah. The more talks I’ve given I- I try to share more about that. I’m not, like, going up there and telling about my faith. It’s just, like, I find, you know, whether it’s different quotes or, or books or things of … I’m learning in my own journey there, uh, with my community, it’s like, “Oh, they’re very similar.”

Nadia: 06:53 One of the reasons I’m hesitant to talk about it is because of this intrinsic motivation thing, and the idea of public service, um, which sort of stands in conflict sometimes with the work that I’m interested in at open source, which is around sustainability and saying you can’t really rely on the goodwill of developers to continue to maintain the infrastructure that we’re all relying on, and so, for me, sometimes I- I worry that if I kind of dig into the faith thing of, you know …

Henry: 07:21 Hmm.

Nadia: 07:22 There’s, there’s some sense of you’re doing it for reasons other than something material. You’re doing it because you really believe in this thing, and that sometimes I worry that if I, you know, focus on that side then it, it might invalidate this belief that also we need some sort of support for people that are doing this work, and how do they avoid, um, getting burned out by the work that they’re doing.

Henry: 07:43 Right. That’s, like, a really good point and I definitely am not on the side of, like, you should do everything for free and all that. Obviously, cause I- I left to … and I have to sustain myself too. (laughs) uh, so I am, I guess, living out that struggle right now where, you know, there’s this sense of I want to be able to give everything away, but … And you don’t want to limit access to things because you have to make money for it, but, um, yeah, you, you have to sustain yourself and, um, the idea that only people that can have their free time to do open source, or the only people that should do it is, e- seems pretty wrong to me as well. Um, but I- I don’t know. It’s a healthy struggle to have, I- I guess. It’s, um, yeah.

Nadia: 08:28 It seems like for … we don’t hold our day to day work to that same standard of we expect that you … It’s great to be intrinsically motivated by the work that you do as, like, your day job, um, but that doesn’t negate the, uh, need to have a salary or sustain yourself. And so why would that be any different for open source.

Henry: 08:48 Right. It shouldn’t be in conflict. I guess this kind of goes … I- I had a conversation with someone else about, you know, work and, and whether, you know, if we’re all trying to help people it’s like, you can make, you know, make like … do a pro- for profit company and then decide to donate it away or use that, you know, wealth or influence to help, or you can spend your time serving people, um, kind of more directly, and maybe you won’t ever make a lot of money, but you’re having impact. And, you know, maybe some people believe one is more better, impactful than the other. And, it’s hard to say. I- I think it’s kind of where you’re placed at i- in the current time.

Nadia: 09:32 What do you mean by that?

Henry: 09:33 So, if you’re in a position where you can influence others, um, then I think that’s the best thing you can do, but if you’re, you know, you’re able to have, or … you’re able to make a lot of money, then maybe you don’t have to be the one doing it, like, doing the direct help. Um, you can find other people to do it. And if you’re, if you’re just … You’re already, like, you have a heart to help people directly, then you should do that. I guess I’m just saying that i- it- shouldn’t matter, like, which one … what it is, but I do say … I would say that, like, a lot of people would want to say, like, move everything long term, so it’s like, “Oh, I’m gonna, like, you know, make a business and then give it all away once I make it,” and it’s a good attitude, but also you might realize later that you might not ever get there, um, and it’s kind of like, doing the giving now will help build that sense of giving in the future, and maybe you … like cause over time you might lose that, um, even though in your mind you believe that that’s true.

Nadia: 10:48 Hmm. Yeah. I mean, there’s no really, like … I guess I was just thinking too, within the concept of, like, spiritual practice. I mean, there’s …

Henry: 10:55 Yeah.

Nadia: 10:55 A lot of overlap there too of … I mean, there are religions that are based around mega-churches and, like …

Henry: 11:05 Yeah.

Nadia: 11:05 They’re all sort of about fundraising or sort of selling, selling some sort of a product or a promise to people. Um, and there’s also faith that’s extremely personal and private and, um, and it … Sometimes it’s not even connected to community at all but it’s sort of just about, like, yourself and your own self-discovery. And so it’s like, the, the money question is sort of a separate thing from your personal level or connection to whatever you’re … you practice. And so maybe it’s like similar to have like … you can’t within open source cause a million different reasons how you might end up sustaining it or not, but that doesn’t invalidate the sort of underlying motivation.

Henry: 11:45 Yeah. I guess I was talking more from a personal point of view of what you were saying about like, kind of, a mos- a discipline in giving. Just like everything else, um, there … We have habits that affect, you know, how we actually live and what we believe and that sometimes what we think we believe isn’t what we’re end up gonna be doing because we don’t practice it, and so, um … Even what you’re doing with the grant, right? Um. It’s a really cool way of doing, uh, an …

Henry: 12:15 I mean, you could talk all day about giving, but if we’re not actually doing it in the day-to-day, that might like kind of lead us away, and then you find out, you know, maybe years later, you’re like, “Oh, I’ve lost that sense,” if you even realize that.

Nadia: 12:30 Hmm. Yeah, yeah. Giving in like really small ways every day is, I think, a really important practice.

Henry: 12:37 Right. And, and it’s kind of funny cause it’s, it’s in some sense, you’re like, “Oh, I want to help people,” but in another sense it maybe it can help you just as much, um, for you to be able to realize that that’s what’s good for you to. To have that sense of giving through the practice.

Nadia: 12:55 How do you balance that in open source where you could theoretically say helping someone is, you know, good for you or, um, feeds you spiritually, but there’s some point where it’s like, too much, right?

Henry: 13:08 Um.

Nadia: 13:08 Like, how do you know when it’s depleting. (laughs)

Henry: 13:10 Yeah, this is uh … Right. And I think that’s a really hard question of … And I don’t know if there’s, like, a line there because … All right. Think about people of faith and there are people that, you know, we- There’s, you know, we are asked to sacrifice, uh, but also there’s grace and there’s, there’s a need to rest. People are, you know, at the extreme. You could even be martyred for your faith, but eh, are we all called to do that kind of thing and, and it’s hard to really know per, per se, but yeah. I’m not … I’m not really sure. (laughs)

Henry: 13:49 Because, you know, you know, you have to think about, say, you know, your physical health and your mental health, and maybe, you know, you are healthy and you’re able to kind of, um, go, you know, more all in than other people, but you know, if you’re dealing with issues, then it’s like, you have to understand more of yourself. And I don’t know if you can look to people to, like, “Oh, I’m going to copy what they do,” but you kind of have to learn on your own what that is. Um. Like more awareness. And maybe that means, like, talking with others and seeing how they see how you’re doing too.

Nadia: 14:29 Hmm. Like for them to evaluate you almost?

Henry: 14:30 Yeah. So a sense of accountability in the community. I think that’s super important. So definitely in faith, cause you want people to let you know when you’re getting off track. Stuff like that. And I think in the same way with either working too much or serving too much, um, it’s, it’s … pretty similar.

Nadia: 14:48 Hmm. S- This is making me think about tithing a little bit, but like, in a different way …

Henry: 14:54 Yea, yeah.

Nadia: 14:55 Yeah. The idea of, like, and … Yeah. I’m, I’m interested in tithing at a bunch of different levels but in particular I guess I’m thinking about it right now just as, like, how do you know whether you can afford to tithe or not. And I guess similarly, like, h-

Henry: 15:07 Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Nadia: 15:07 How do you know when you can afford to give of yourself in any shape or form, um, if you don’t have a lot yourself and, um, the feedback I’ve seen has been, like, don’t … If you can’t af- like, afford to tithe or it’s gonna cause you some really serious undue hardship, like, that’s a decision for you to make. It’s not up to anyone else to judge whether you do it or not. But, like, there’s no one right answer to it. It’s, like, if you wanna give anyway because you believe it’ll be good for you, that’s fine. If not, then don’t. But it’s not prescriptive about, like, you must always be giving this amount no matter what. Like, you kind of have to check in with yourself and, and be like, is this … is this something I can realistically do or, or not?

Henry: 15:50 Yeah. No. I would agree. For sure. So I think it’s interesting, even in, in the church, right? It’s like where most … many of … It depends on your, like, the composition of the church, right? It’s like how many people are, are members of the church, and how many members actually tithe, um, and the same way with open source. It’s like, you have millions of users. How many people are giving back in through money or time, um, it’s always going to be a way smaller amount. And it’s not like we need everyone to be doing it. Um, and maybe they don’t realize it either.

Nadia: 16:25 That’s sort of where I’ve, like, kind of been interested in tithing as it corollary to open source. Like, should we expect that anyone who is closely involved in an open source project should be giving of their time or money or whatever, but s- I mean, the whole point of tithing is just to feel like you, I think, like, you, you’re giving something substantially back to this shared community. Um, is that a realistic expectation at open source project?

Henry: 16:50 Uh. I- I guess it doesn’t seem like it cause at least with tithing in your church it’s like, you’re going … Maybe you’re going every week and you’re in fellowship with people and … I don’t know. It feels more like a community, just cause it’s in person, and when it’s open source it, the attitude is very consumer like, right? It’s very transactional. Even though there’s no payment. It’s just, like, I’m using it. Or it doesn’t even exist, but in church it’s like, you see people all the time. You know who the … all the people in the congregation are, and you’re willing to give back cause it’s … you’re, you’re a part of the … you’re, you’re kind of … you have a shared sense of ownership.

Henry: 17:31 But with, with the code and open source, people don’t even know who the maintainers are. Like say with Babel. People think it’s still … it’s like a company or it’s a part of a company like Facebook or something, and there’s that perception that still hasn’t been, like, changed.

Nadia: 17:46 I wonder whether that’s, like whether that’s good … Whether that’s a, a good evolution or whether that’s actually a sign of a problem, right? Cause I think historically in open source there was this … Er. When I talked to open source developer that was from projects that are a bit older, um. There’s this belief that all the users are potential contributors and there shouldn’t even be a concept of users because, um, if you are using the project, you c- have the potential to be able to theoretically give back and, um, I think in some of the (clears throat) older projects I’ve seen, there’s just much more of a sense of, like, if you have a problem it’s … sure, you can report a bug or something so that other people can see it, but it’s kind of on you to, like, contribute if you, if you really, really need that fix that badly, then it’s kind of on you to figure out how to solve it. And I think that worked because when there … when projects are smaller, there’re just fewer people using open source in general. Um, there was that higher …

Henry: 18:44 Yeah.

Nadia: 18:44 Level of, like, community, right? Where you kind of did feel like there are fewer people that are working on this project and there can be this shared expectation that everyone needs to pitch in, and now with, like, a project, like, Babel. Like, I mean, it’s impossible. Of course, there are just people who are users and that aren’t going to ever be contributors but maybe from within that there’s, like, still a smaller core of people that are somewhat active or contributing and of those people, there might be more of a shared context of pitching in and, and helping each other out. Like, I don’t know. Like, would you say there is that, like …

Henry: 19:17 Yeah.

Nadia: 19:17 Sizable contributor community of, like, people … faces that you see regularly similar to how you would see people regularly in like a congregation or whatever?

Henry: 19:26 Yeah. I- I guess I would agree that before it was just … there weren’t a lot of people. So you can … there’s that assumption that anyone can get involved. But now it’s like with GitHub and, you know, anyone getting involved in open source or … it- cause of the barrier to entry is so low and all these more people are trying to learn programming, you can’t really expect that, right? And people don’t just don’t have enough education or, and … around how things work, and we need to do a lot more work to, to build on that.

Henry: 19:58 Yeah, I think the amount of contributors is, it’s like, you know, there might be, like, two or three or four core people on a team, and then maybe like, ten times more of, like, people that you might see regularly. And then maybe like a thousand times more for users.

Nadia: 20:18 And do you feel like those, the people that you see regularly, do they interact with each other at all, or do they only really interact with, like, you or, uh, like some other core maintainer? Like, is there a community for contributors?

Henry: 20:31 I guess … Yeah. I think that’s one of the issues that we’ve had is, you know, maybe before it was, like, their email, and then now it’s, like, through these chat apps like Slack and Discord and all that. Um, and it’s kind of we’re at that, the … Almost like the community itself is outside of GitHub, or everything is about the issues and the pull request, but then in the day-to-day, it’s not really there. Um, and it’s hard to foster community when, like, you allow anyone to join and then half of the stuff is just questions about usage, and then no one’s really talking about development in the day-to-day.

Henry: 21:15 And maybe they … I mean, not everyone has time to do that anyone, but … basically, th- it’s, you know, it’s hard to coordinate and get people on the same page. You know, we don’t … If you don’t have meetings, then it’s really hard for that and people don’t like meetings and, um … But, that, that’s what leads to, like, what we have now where it’s, like … we don’t … if there’s no direction or no one knows what’s going to go, what’s moving forward, there’s no vision, it’s, it’s hard to move forward.

Nadia: 21:47 Yeah. Yeah. I wonder-

Henry: 21:48 And, uh, oh. No one teaches you how to do that, and I guess that’s my role now, but, uh, it’s, it’s, it’s interesting.

Nadia: 21:57 Do people ever sort of, like, run into each other physically at events that are, like, regular contributors?

Henry: 22:06 Oh. Um. I don’t think we have enough regular contributors for that, but I’ve always had a great time being able to … I either go to a conference, or a city, and then being able to meet, uh, maintainers or … Well, that’s more rare. It’s more like meeting users. That’s always cool.

Nadia: 22:23 Do you think it’s even realistic? Like, I guess I’m … I’m thinking about, like, for, like, very big projects there are … I think what works really well for them is that they have these really strong contributor communities, um, where there is a lot of context being preserved and there is a lot of this sense of, like, people pitching in and helping each other out. But is that even realistic for a project that is, like, I think, more, um … I don’t know. I guess there’s just, like, a lot of projects now where, like, that … they just don’t have that kind of a set up. Because it’s not going to be as large.

Henry: 22:59 Yeah. Right. Like the scope of it is just never going to be that big.

Nadia: 23:02 Yeah.

Henry: 23:02 And we don’t have enough people like … Well, I think another thing is just we’re not really thinking about it that much, right? It’s kind of the … My assumption is that most people just want to, like, work on code and community is, like, there but it’s kind of implicit. I don’t think anyone’s going out of their way to set up these kinds of things. Like, now I’m thinking, like, “Oh, what is we made a Babel meet up.” It’s not where you give talks. It’s just where you contribute or we have a conference even. That seems kind of crazy for a small project like us, that’s not even a company, but, um … You know, maybe?

Nadia: 23:41 Yeah. Or you can just, like … I don’t know. I guess I’m thinking about, like … I’m going back to the faith stuff again. But just, like, well why do people go to church regularly? And it’s sort of like a sense of … I think there’s some sort of sense of purpose and, like, community that isn’t … It doesn’t have to be this, like, super designed out, like, there’s a conference and a meet up kind of thing, but just, like, you go almost just to, like … Maybe it’s also, like, the accountability thing? So like .. I’m, I’m not religious. Um …

Henry: 24:11 I think so.

Nadia: 24:12 But, but I guess the closest thing …

Henry: 24:13 Yeah.

Nadia: 24:13 That I have to this is that I do, um, aerial circus stuff, and like, a big reason, I think for a lot of people, they feel this way about their workouts where the reason you might keep coming back to it is partly for the community and, like …

Henry: 24:27 Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Nadia: 24:27 I think, like, Crossfit is maybe like an extreme example of this, but yeah. Part of like why I would go regularly is because it’s … there is a little bit of that accountability thing. Like you’re kind of showing up not just for you, but you’re showing up for other people, and you expect to see these faces …

Henry: 24:39 Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Nadia: 24:40 Regularly and … I don’t know. I just, I wonder if there’s some level of that, that can make people feel more, not obligated, but just sort of, like, give them more of a purpose in contributing regularly. I don’t know if this is all just, like, extremely naïve and optimistic, but just that, that sense of, like, you’re showing up for a reason, right?

Henry: 25:02 Yeah. I don’t think that’s naïve. I think that’s at the core of it. Um, a sense of consistency. Like, why church is every Sunday or Saturday for people. It’s, like … And they go every week. It’s not even because, like, you know, you go there to learn about, you know, God or faith or something, but, you know, another reason to go is because you’re struggling. And so, you know, every person of faith has doubt, and maybe every person that’s a non-believer has some kind of longing for something greater, and there’s, there’s kind of that tension that we all have, and part of the reason of going is to encourage others, um, in the faith. So it’s like, maybe that I’m not going because I’m trying to express my devotion and whatever.

Henry: 25:46 That’s part of it, but a lot of it is that maybe I’m not feeling up to it, but I know that all my … You know, all the other people in the congregation, they’re there, because they are. Uh, maybe we kind of switch off, kind of, kind of thing where it’s, like, “Oh, I’m not feeling it today, but being in there, being involved in the l- practices and,” I- I’m using the word liturgy or the church. It’s like, you kind of get restored into what it’s all about when you might have forgotten it through the, the, the week, right? Cause maybe … If, if you’re only going that one day it’s like …

Henry: 26:20 It’s funny. Like, on Monday, it’s like suddenly now you’re back to people what they think is just like, “Oh, it’s just work again,” but it’s like how do we instill a sense that, like, the whole week, whether you’re at work or in church, it’s all the same.

Nadia: 26:35 Yeah. Yeah. I definitely feel that way about (laughs) about workouts too. Of sometimes you really just don’t want to go but I go because I know everyone else is going to be there, and then afterwards I’m really glad that I went. Um, and again, I think it’s, like, a really fine line to toe with open source and wanting to be respectful that it is people’s volunteer time and it should be something that feels fun to them and not, like, an obligation. And so, like, how do you respect that while also …

Nadia: 27:05 I mean, ideally, like they, they go not out of a sense of, like, “Ugh, I have to do this obligation,” but more because it actually does give them a sense of just, like, purpose of happiness or fulfillment.

Henry: 27:17 Right. Exactly. And same thing with c- (laughs) I would say the same thing about going to church. It’s not about, like, feeling guilty or, like, somehow, like, going to church every week means that you’re a good person or anything like that. Um, and I think, even going there for that reason might be a negative. And so, same way as continuing to do open source cause you feel guilty is just gonna lead to more burnout. So we need to, like, think deeply about, like, yeah, “Why are we doing this in the first place,” and whether it’s good for you or other people. Um, and not putting all the burden on yourself because, you’re, like, “I’m the only person that can do this,” kind of thing.

Henry: 27:57 Which is also a total- the same issue in, in the church too. With- A lot of people there, well, everyone there, they’re all serving and trying to do different things and, um, and, uh … It might lead to burnout there. Which is, it’s also an issue.

Nadia: 28:13 Are there people that will, like, step away from the church for a while and then come back? And if so, why?

Henry: 28:18 Yeah. That could be, uh, for a lot of reasons, but I feel like, it’s kind of, for me, it’s like, you know, maybe, um … So I also have, like, a bible study or small group on Fridays. And so after work, every Friday I would go there. And, you know, maybe I’m like super tired from work and everyone else is too, but I kind of … I’m going there to be renewed and restored. Not because I’m tired and I was like, “Oh, I don’t want to go anymore.” It’s, like … It’s something completely different from work and it’s, like, we’re able to share with one another the struggles or, or encourage one another and the things that’s happening in our lives. And I think that’s where the church is.

Henry: 28:58 Um, I don’t know if that’s true for open source for everyone, but, I mean, I think it can be. Um, but yeah. I think service is, it’s hard because sometimes it’s, like, the idea of serving versus serving itself, um … Like, it kind of competes, uh … I have this really good quote. This is more really specific to faith but I think it’s kind of relevant. Um, so, it says, “Beware of anything that competes with our loyalty to Jesus. The greatest comparator of true devotion to Jesus is the service we do for him. It’s easier to serve than to pour out our lives for him. The goal of the call of God is the satisfaction, not simply that we should do something for him. We’re not sent to do battle for God, t- use by God in his battles. Are we more devoted to service than we are to Jesus himself?”

Henry: 29:53 And so, in … For the faith thing, it’s like, maybe serving becomes your own God, and, like, feeling like you’re so important and, um, the sense of service trumps the point of faith in the first place. Which is interesting. Where your faith becomes your God. Or your work becomes your God, rather than working to serve, um, because you’ve already, you already have God.

Nadia: 30:21 So the idea being that you don’t … you almost don’t need to have faith, which would imply, like, trust that something is important because you already feel it so intrinsically yourself?

Henry: 30:33 Well, it’s, it’s the sense that, like, you shouldn’t have to work for it, right? Um. It’s a very … I guess it’s kind of nuanced where it’s like … Like, lo- Uh, God already loves you, so you shouldn’t have to work to get his approval, but because he loves you, you work. So you’re doing it out of a sense of joy or love, um, already, instead of trying to, like, gain it. And that sense of wanting to gain it and to serve, that’s the thing that leads to burn out because you’re like, “I’m not doing enough. I’m not serving enough. I’m not helping enough. I can always be doing more,” and you have more guilt versus like, doing it, out of a sense of I already have, and because of that, I will give.

Nadia: 31:21 When you think someone feels that way in open source … Like, we’ll see people that’ll, you know, step away. Either just because they don’t have time anymore. They have other things they care about. Whatever the case, but I guess, like, if you do that sort of, like, self-inquiry, um, and you realize that this isn’t bringing you the joy that you wish it did, do you think … There’s two paths, right? It’s either like you step away and you say, “All right, I’m going to go find something that does bring me joy,” or, “I need to change what I’m doing or how I’m doing it, so that it does bring back that sense of joy, right?”

Henry: 32:00 Yeah. I don’t know if it’s, um, like, just two options. Cause there is, what you were saying before, of just kind of temporarily going away, right? It’s not, like, either I quit entirely or I kind of do something else in the same space. Yeah, maybe, maybe it’s just that all you’ve been doing is working on it and you never took a vacation or, or whatever and that’s definitely a issue in open source where you always feel like you’re on call. You’re always, like, needing to be there. Especially in our current age of, like, you know, with Twitter …

Nadia: 32:35 Yeah.

Henry: 32:35 And that kind of thing.

Nadia: 32:36 Yeah. Definitely putting boundaries. I mean, that’s something that even outside of open source, like, a lot of people feel- You- You know, like I try not to use Twitter on the weekends …

Henry: 32:41 Definitely.

Nadia: 32:42 Just cause it feels like, ugh.

Henry: 32:43 Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Nadia: 32:43 Yeah. Uh. And I think that’s, like what I found even with my work out- outside of open source. Just, it can … Just setting up those kinds of boundaries can help you feel that sense of excitement about the work that you’re doing cause you’re not always on and you’re not always responsive.

Henry: 33:03 I guess if the … It’s not like, uh … It’s just the concern is that when you’re so involved and, and all that … Um, and, like, say I’m doing open source full time, I still don’t want to be so into it. Like, I’m consumed but everything that’s there, and then you … all you do is think about worry and all that. And you don’t do your best work there.

Nadia: 33:25 Thanks for listening. If you’d like to continue the conversation, you can find us on Twitter at @left_pad or @nayafia or on our website hopeinsource.com.

Credits

Hosted by Nadia Eghbal and Henry Zhu.
Edited by Henry Zhu.
Cover art by Jessica Han.
Music by Ken Wheeler.

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