Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. —Galatians 6:4-5, The Message
Recently our entire campus participated in the Global Connections Conference, an opportunity to hear about some of the greatest needs in the world and consider how God might be calling us to contribute. It was at a conference just like this that Danny and I first explored the possibility of mission work, initiating what would become 15 years of service with SIM. Ironically, we resigned from SIM in order for me to pursue a full-time faculty position teaching Bible. I say "ironically" because now more than ever my work is leaning in to the ministry for which we long prepared and for which I'm best suited. By opening up the Scriptures with my students, I'm addressing the acute need of this generation to understand and encounter the Living Word.
But finding our identity and calling as a believer is not a one-time-fits-all experience. With every changing season of our lives or changing circumstance, we may find ourselves asking again: Who am I? How is God calling me to invest my time and training? I was back in that space during the conference, needing clarity about my role, prayerfully considering the path ahead. A barrage of opportunities had me feeling muddled.
|Foot in Two Worlds (Photo: C Imes)|
I work at the intersection between the church and the academy in the field of biblical studies. I am called to have one foot firmly planted in the church and the other firmly planted in the academy, with my work forming a bridge between these worlds. My aim in the church is to be and invite others to be lovers of God -- loving God with our minds as well as our actions. My aim in the academy is to produce quality scholarship, representing Christ well. I write and speak across this spectrum -- for laypeople, college and seminary students, pastors, and fellow academics -- showing the relevance of academic inquiry to those in the church and modeling respectful but discerning engagement with the academy.
Having this kind of clarity frees me to respond to invitations to speak, teach, write, endorse, edit, and consult without guilt. Rather than asking, 'What would my colleague do?' or 'What would my peer do at another institution?' or 'How will this look on my CV?' I can ask, 'Does this fit with my mission?' or 'Is this the work to which I've been called?'
I'm standing on the cusp of summer now. My grading is finished. In a few hours my students will have graduated and/or headed home. I have a whole slate of projects lined up for the summer that I am eager to begin! These projects align with my mission. A lot of no's and the occasional strategic yes has put me in a joyful place. Having made the careful exploration Paul describes, I'm eager to sink right in!
Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. --Galatians 6:4, The MessageHave you taken the time lately to prayerfully reconsider your involvements in light of how God wired you? The clarity of a personal mission statement can bring so much freedom. Instead of feeling pulled in multiple directions by every request for your time, you can develop a confident "no" that will make room for the right "yes."