Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Reading in Business and Academia

Written by: on September 2, 2021

Twelve years of primary education, four years of higher education, another four years of seminary education, and now I find myself in the second year of George Fox’s Doctoral program. My ability to read, take notes, and compose critical essays has indeed improved over this trajectory. It’s rewarding to see one’s intellectual growth. Progress is gratifying and provides momentum.

Although I was a full-time student in all those years, rarely did I feel rushed to read and write a critical essay. And if I did find myself in that situation, it was of my own making due to procrastination or lack of motivation. My teachers always provided plenty of time to read the assignment and write an analytical essay showing that I understand the material.

But the factor that really increased my reading speed and retention of information was when I became a small business owner. I owned a real estate company for 12 years, from 2005 – 2017. I performed real estate services, mostly on the property management and investment side of the industry. I started the company by myself in my living room: no business partners, no mentors. I had to learn the accepted rules for accounting and bookkeeping, leasing, landlord-tenant law, advertising, marketing, and the many legal issues of the business. It all fell on my shoulders I needed to learn quickly. Never have I felt so much pressure to learn something now and completely master the material. My livelihood depended upon it. Always in the background there was the looming fear of mistakes and facing legal ramifications. My ability to get to the point of a rule, law, procedure, or document improved dramatically. I became efficient at learning and getting to the bottom line as fast as possible. There was an intellectual intensity that I had never had before. When I started my business, I had 20-20 vision. During those twelve years, I passed through the range of Costco reading glasses: 1.25, 1.50, 1.75, and I just recently purchased my new three-pack of 2.00 glasses.

The mindset of business is different than that of academia. In seminary I learned to understand theological doctrine by breaking down an argument patiently, point by point, logically, carefully. Business moves at a quicker speed: advertise to get the customer, make the sale, move on to the next client. Always, there is an eye towards efficiency, profit, growth. The two worlds have different rhythms. Reading comprehension, with careful analysis with lots of note taking is the way to successfully navigate both worlds. These skills I learned in my life experiences will serve me well in this doctoral program. The required reading and the quantity of writing in this program will no doubt improve my skills even more. The subject matter is more interesting to me and that by itself helps in reading comprehension.

Psalm 6:7 says, “My eyes grow weak.” But truer still is Isaiah 40:31, “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” Weak eyes are a fair trade for a strong soul.

About the Author


Troy Rappold

B.A. Communication - University of Colorado M.Div. Theology - Cincinnati Christian University Currently enrolled in D. Min. program at George Fox University

10 responses to “Reading in Business and Academia”

  1. mm Eric Basye says:

    Hey there Troy. Yes, you and I have had similar paths. I very much resonate with this shift of reading and writing. What seems very apparent to me is your continual desire to learn and grow. No doubt, this will be the mark of your success… you are willing to do what it takes.

    • mm Troy Rappold says:

      It’s been a journey that I couldn’t have predicted but God works that way in our lives so we will learn to depend upon him and trust him. I ended up really enjoying real estate. I bet we could swap stories about investors and tenants for hours…

  2. mm Jonathan Lee says:

    Hi Troy! I enjoyed hearing about your past journey. I resonated with you when you mentioned the difference in the pace between the two world of business and academia. One has to run faster and faster while the other focuses on intentionally slowing down. I find myself difficult to make a healthy rhytem of learning to slow down and then run fast or the other way around, run fast then slow down. Thank you for the great insight! Indeed, out flesh may fade away, but strong soul will be eternal~

    • mm Troy Rappold says:

      Hi Jonathan: Thanks for the comments. The 2 worlds really are vastly different, but I tell myself that new connections are being made between the synapses of my brain, which can only be a good thing. But at times it was so frustrating when I was new in business, like my brain is working slower than everybody else.

  3. mm Roy Gruber says:

    Troy, great description of the different roles you’ve experienced. It sounds like your need to produce a certain result in business is quite similar to my own in the ministry role. I’m surprised how easy it is to be focused on a specific outcome without preparing for a bigger “win” by learning beyond the pressing deadline in front of us. Perhaps the decline of your physical eyesight will be offset by the increase of thinking and learning “vision.” I’m glad that what I feel as a growing experience ahead in these next two years will be shared with folks like you.

  4. Elmarie Parker says:

    Hey Troy, I really appreciated reading more about what your journey has included up to now. Your description of the variance between academic space and work space resonates with my own experience as well. As I read your reflection it left me wondering what you are finding most meaningful in our readings to date that helps you to further develop your reading and analytical skills?

  5. mm Nicole Richardson says:

    Troy thank you for sharing your journey…wow! What a powerful skill set you have. It sounds like you have valuable experience and knowledge that I would appreciate tapping into. I am curious if there are valuable points in the readings that you gleaned that encourage you to learn more?

    • mm Troy Rappold says:

      Hi Nicole: I really liked, “Steal Like an Artist” – it is the only book that I read every word so far this semester. I’m 1/2 way through the “Gamestorming” book and I’m worried because I haven’t got the exercises figured out for my workshop yet. Yikes!

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