My role as director of the Center for Faith and Human Flourishing limits the number of courses that I teach. The balance is about 30% teaching, 30% administration/fundraising, 30% research, 10% supervising. Furthermore, the courses that I typically teach are upper-level OT and NT courses, which tend to be small. This means that currently my contact with students is somewhat limited and focused. I enjoy the admin and research side of my job, and appreciate how significant it is for my institution.
So, sometimes I need unusual periods such as this past week to remind me how much I enjoy hanging out with young people and discussing/teaching important ideas. One of my colleagues was away, and I covered a couple of his classes on Monday and Thursday.
On Monday, my task was to provide an introduction to the Psalter for two of his Introduction to Bible sections: cover the basic forms and genres of psalms, possible historical or settings, and explain their significance in Jewish and Christian communities. Each section had about 30 students, many of whom are not otherwise interested in the biblical material apart from a grade in a required course. So, it was rewarding to have the classes go reasonably well, and to feel like even those in the back row were at least partly engaged.
On Thursday, I was responsible for the Judaism section of the World Religions course. Steve mainly asked me to read the textbook and field the students’ questions as best I could, but I also spoke a bit from my complicated personal story with Jewishness. Not only did we use up nearly the entire 90 minutes, but one student had more questions, and we chatted for about 45 minutes after class in my office.
This is all in addition to hosting some CFHF guests for talks, my normal Hebrew Wisdom and Poetry course (two 90 minute periods on the Psalter), and meetings to prepare my thesis student for his proposal defense next week. On Wednesday, we had our regular men’s Bible study, working our way through the book of Mark.
Then, last night, a larger student-led Bible study that typically meets on campus asked if they could meet in our home. I joined these ten students–five women and five men–for singing, prayer, and biblical discussion in our living room. Many of these folks are first- and second-year students, and their spiritual maturity and zeal bodes well for the next 2-3 years at LCC
After a research-heavy summer and part of the fall semester, it was refreshing to spend a lot more time with students than I often get to. I enjoy the zeal and excitement of young people, and the fact that they are often not afraid to ask uncomfortable questions about life, God, the scriptures, relationships, etc. I appreciate the position I am in to have influence on their lives, to strengthen the faith of those who are believers, and to perhaps be an instrument that God uses to draw others closer to Himself. I am grateful for the intellectual freedom I have at my institution to ask important questions, and the time that my workload affords me to meet with students outside of class.