Ten and counting

This is the 10th installment in our series on faculty. I’ll say it again:

I believe an educational institution’s missional success ultimately depends, not on its executive leadership, but on its faculty.

I began by insisting that the key leadership priority of “alignment” very much pertains to your faculty. As an educational leader, you cannot permit yourself to be distracted from the critical need to ensure that your faculty are selected, retained, developed, and rewarded in full alignment with your institution’s biblical higher education mission and values.

I then sought to establish that the preferred manner of faculty development is coaching. Two essential means of faculty development are inquiry and investment.

Now we come to the what of faculty development. What do well-developed biblical higher education faculty members look like? What capacities and competencies should they possess in increasing measure? I suggest we consider five key areas: self-awareness, scholarly currency, interdisciplinary engagement, teaching and learning proficiency, and biblical/theological worldview integration. We’ll tackle the first one this time around.

Good soil

I’m sure I have no need to emphasize to you that the spiritual maturity of your faculty has a direct bearing on the spiritual formation of your students. Self-awareness is the soil in which personal growth toward full maturity occurs. The following statement has been attributed to John Calvin: “Our wisdom consists almost entirely of two parts, our knowledge of God and our knowledge of ourselves; it is impossible to distinguish which determines which.” Contemporary pastor and author Pete Scazzaro puts it this way: “it’s impossible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature” [Emotionally Healthy Spirituality].

While faculty members should own their responsibility to maintain spiritual vitality and actively pursue growth toward maturity, you also bear responsibility to position the mirror and pose the questions that lead your colleagues to deeper self-understanding. Self-understanding should breed, among other things, unfeigned humility and disciplined focus.

Capacity: the enemy of humility

Capacity is the enemy of humility. Exceedingly gifted individuals—as would be most of your faculty—need coaching that helps them cultivate humble self-awareness.

There is a vast difference, moreover, between exercising acquired skills, however proficiently, and engaging in what you are passionate about. While faculty members should embrace their obligation as members of a team to employ their skills in service of the larger cause, the most fruitful, fulfilling service—energizing service that can be sustained—flows from circumstances in which there is a high correspondence between faculty members’ daily activities and their core gifts and passions.

Focus fosters fruitfulness

At the early stages of personal and career maturity, many faculty members lack discernment relative to their core gifts and passions, the areas in which they have the potential to make their greatest contribution. As an educational leader and mentor, your probing questions and encouraging guidance should aim to foster such self-understanding among your colleagues and release and resource the professional development that corresponds to it.

Fresh gleanings to fuel your leadership awareness, reflection, and conversations …

Sleep is a means of grace 

Kate Shellnut rightly observes that healthy sleep patterns are a powerful antidote to what Douglas Rushkoff (Present Shock) calls digiphrenia. The Psalmist assures us that our sleep proves we believe God will be working while we sleep (Psalm 4:8). I hope you are making sleep a spiritual discipline. I believe it is a means of grace.


The reality TV presidency 

In my opinion, Michael Brendan Dougherty nails it: the reality TV genre is best framework within which to understand Donald Trump’s presidency. If, as Malcolm Muggeridge asserted, “the medium is the message,” we may be heading into a tumultuous and, sometimes tawdry season. Regardless whether Dougherty’s analysis is accurate, however, it doesn’t change anything about what Paul instructs believers to do in 1 Timothy 2:2: pray for … all those in high positions.