From Montana to the world! That’s how I would summarize my first year in the Portland Seminary at George Fox University DMin LGP8 program. I am thankful for the opportunity to expand my horizons, and feel like this first year has been worth every sacrifice and investment.
It’s about people! Yes, this is academic, but why grow in academia apart from the people? The absolute highlight of year one was PEOPLE. Mentors, advisors, colleagues, classmates, other cohort members, spouses, guests, and Jesus. Here is our first picture together, taken just after riding the ferris wheel at the Cape Town harbor with my newest friends…
We called ourselves the “Elite 8’s“, but I believe we had an even bigger calling. To grow together, learn together and help each other. Do we all agree? Not a chance! But, I think we love and appreciate each other. Fourteen of us–it’s special. Here is a picture on our final night together on our South Africa Advance (minus Dave–but we all understood his absence):
It’s also about the memories! I met my first animist turned to Christ, talked with a political prisoner who was incarcerated with Nelson Mandela, played “high five” with South African children, went on a mini safari, saw penguins (in Africa?), was stretched by my ridiculous white privilege, took a gondola ride to the summit of Tabletop Mountain, and worshipped God a half a world away. Check this out this memory to last a lifetime:
Themes I learned through our readings: The consumerism of the American church as well as our American consumeristic culture is appalling, Western Capitalism is a root problem issue that causes arrogance in our Western churches, the term “Evangelicalism” carries with it TONS of baggage (which is tough if your denomination’s name is “The Evangelical Church”), critical thinking skills are mandatory for serious Doctoral students, and much growth/understanding of ONESELF is necessary for successful higher education (more on that in the next question).
The books I referred to the most (other than Turabian): I looked back on all my Blogs from year one and was surprised which topics came up the most in my writing. Adler’s How to Read a Book was my most quoted. Should I be bummed about that? Then, books looking inward were the next most often quoted, like Leadership Pain by Chand, and Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership by Macintosh. I suppose, if I am being honest, these books as part of a Ministry Doctorate are perhaps more appealing to me than straight academic books. Not that I didn’t benefit from the academic books, or think they are unnecessary. They are vital! But, I believe I had to take care of some inner business to get through to the more academic studies.
Have I been changed? Certainly! I am not the same person I was in September. I believe my growth curve was most evident in seeking to understand where other people were coming from theologically and personally. For example, in my interesting interactions with Jake Dean Hill about egalitarian roles, I grew with respect and knowledge. Furthermore, I grew in understanding on the social issues of our day, like racism, and others relating to politics and religion (thanks to Douthat in Bad Religion). I very much appreciated the Zoom meetings where we could knock the ideas around a little, to attempt to grasp a bigger picture of how different opinions are formed. I only wish we had more time to interact like that. Thus, responding to each other’s Blog has been important and a good experience for me.
How will I lead differently? To put it mildly, I hope I am seeing things from a more global perspective, not just a ego-driven American one. I will remember what Dr. Jason, G, Jenn, M, and Mark said about their cultures and challenges. I hope to put into practice more GRACE towards differing viewpoints. In short, to quit being so dogged in what I thought was good doctrine. Humility goes a long way, arrogance goes backward.
And let’s not forget, RESEARCH! I come away with better focus towards my research topic–Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU). This year has forced me to narrow my study into bite size chunks, and truly dig deeply into Biblical stewardship, a passion of mine. My field research did not go as I planned, and that is perfectly okay. I am enjoying the journey and process…
Thank you everyone for you assistance!