Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What next?

"So, what will you do next?" people keep asking me. (That's the question they've been asking since I started the doctorate, never mind since graduation in May.)

I'm weighing options. After a weekend in Chicago at the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL), I'm thinking about going back to teaching. I've always loved to share info and learn with others. (Teaching is about learning, after all!) But until recently, I was tired enough that the thought of grading and committee work dampened any enthusiasm for classroom engagement.

A few things I've studied and ideas I'd like to pass along have me reconsidering. The recent interaction with scholars was a lot of fun. Everyone pursues their specialty with great enthusiasm. "Plunge in with both feet," said my peers at the conference. "Teach with all your heart."

Here are a few things to consider during life or work transitions:
  1. What comes naturally? I've been a teacher since I was 13, starting by teaching piano lessons and Sunday School. I've taught Bible courses, spiritual formation, music, communication, teaching methods, etc. etc. from home, at church, and in colleges in the USA, Canada, the UK, and Asia. Sometimes it's been a paid post; sometimes I've done it because I love to teach. What have you done that you'd do regardless of pay or accolades?
  2. What is the opportunity ahead of you? Is the open door possibly a good fit? My inclination is to explore new options before saying yes or no ... always leaning toward "Maybe so!" Are you cautious or adventurous when the winds of change blow your way?
  3.  What do you love? The "aha moment" when someone grasps an idea or seizes on new resources thrills me. I love exploring the Christian life, being part of Christ's Church, mentoring others, and gathering and sharing information. When do you get goosebumps from participating in or designing something?
  4. What do you avoid at all costs? I avoid being micro-managed or balancing a checkbook. Give me freedom to play and explore with a group though ... and I can bear almost anything. What would make you abandon your post?
  5. What is God speaking into your heart? I've always been passionate about teaching and mentoring inside and outside the academic community. I value the learning process and admire those who devote their lives to their students. I've watched my husband's delight in continuing to learn while he teaches. We've never taught the same subjects but our different interests might be beneficial: instead of competition, we've mutually offered support for whatever the other does. What possibilities is God whispering into your listening ear? Is it something familiar? Maybe it's something you've never previously considered.
Another of Real Simple's "Daily Thought"s
If you're thinking of tackling a new challenge, God is able to open gates that are locked. He can lead you on paths you worry are too steep or winding. And He certainly has invested in you the gifting and skills that you need to fulfill his purposes for you and the Kingdom work around you.

Take courage. Move forward. And please let us know what happens in the future -- or how this has already come true for you!

Read more:
*Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws. I have suffered much. Preserve my life, O Lord, according to your word. Accept, O Lord, the willing praise of my mouth, and teach me your laws. Psalm 119:105-108 NIV

*Do as the occasion demands; for God is with you. 1 Samuel 10:7 (NKJV)

*There is none like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is great in might. Jeremiah 10:6

*Do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other. 1 Corinthians 10:4

*Every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:11
Moravian Prayer: Lord, we build our lives upon you, our solid ground and cornerstone. Living in this way is a witness to you, and the way, the truth and life that comes to us when we turn to you. Keep us steady on solid ground.

Help us to seize the day! Help us to see how we can put the gifts you give us to work now in the ways you ask us to. Let there be no waiting. Amen.

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