As we enter April and all attention begins to turn towards commencement, I can’t help but reflect on my life in education and following a vocational calling that eventually led to serving in Christian higher education after 25 years in public education and the marketplace. Mine has been an unexpected journey. Years ago as a young graduate armed with a Bachelor’s degree and a teaching credential, I never imagined pursuing graduate education or serving in higher education, let alone now being recognized as a “turnaround” president.
As an undergraduate student, I began keeping a journal. I don’t write every day or even every week or month, but over the years, my journals have collected. There are three quotes that for years I have carefully copied into the opening page of each new journal. First, is Proverbs 31:25 – strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future.
The second is from Anne Morrow Lindbergh (yes, the wife of Charles Lindbergh). Years ago I happened upon her book, Gift from the Sea, and in 2005 picked up a 50th anniversary edition and highlighted again her words:
I want first of all … to be at peace with myself. I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out these obligations and activities as well as I can. I want, in fact—to borrow from the language of the saints—to live “in grace” as much of the time as possible. …By grace I mean an inner harmony, essentially spiritual, which can be translated into outward harmony. I am seeking perhaps what Socrates asked for in the prayer from Phaedrus when he said, “May the outward and inward man be at one.” I would like to achieve a state of inner spiritual grace from which I could function and give as I was meant to in the eye of God.
The third is from my now yellowed edition of a classic that I first read and highlighted as an undergraduate student. It’s Dietrich Bonheoffer’s classic, The Cost of Discipleship:
When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.
Only Jesus Christ, who bids us follow him, knows the journey’s end. But we do know that it will be a road of boundless mercy. Discipleship is joy.
As a young professional, I had two things – a love of teaching and a desire to live and serve from a place of inner grace and joyfulness that said “yes” to following Christ on the adventure that He had uniquely designed for my life.
I don’t think I yet reflect the three quotes that I keep writing in the front of each new journal. But I can say with a smile and a gladness of heart that following His adventure is indeed a road of boundless mercy and joy if we are willing to take risks, embrace challenge, and trust the One who is able to both keep us and do His immeasurably more thing for His purposes and glory.