Reflections on a New Academic Year

Today, the faculty of Southeastern University begins its traditional two-day meeting at the beginning of a new academic year. I feel reflective today as I prepare for my twenty-fourth year of teaching at the university level. It may be a bit easier for me; I’m no longer serving as chair of my department. That diminishes my responsibilities significantly, and at a time when my wife, Jan, is still recovering from surgery, a reprieve from some responsibility is welcome.

Most of those twenty-four years, I’ve been excited to begin anew. The summer break allows for the kind of change of pace that makes one eager to return to the teaching ministry God has given. This will be my seventh year at SEU, equaling my longest tenure anywhere; I also had seven years at Regent University. I recall those Regent years with special fondness. I was teaching at the master’s level, and the students, who were earning degrees in public policy [with some double-majoring in law], felt a special call of God on their lives to go out in the realm of policy and bring His truth into that sphere of influence. Many of my former students are now doing just that. It gives a sense of satisfaction. Doing God’s will always brings satisfaction.

Many of the students I now teach show up at the university not really knowing God’s direction, so that makes this student body quite different from Regent’s. That doesn’t mean it’s a lesser ministry—it’s just different. My goal now is to awaken in them the desire to see His principles as they are either followed or disobeyed throughout history. Some will become history majors, but God hasn’t called everyone to that. Those who are not going to be history majors, though, can still take what they learn in my courses, and I hope that knowledge will enrich whatever field the Lord leads them into.

Which new students will catch that vision? Which of the history majors will grow and excel in their studies? In the midst of sameness—teaching the same courses—God always provides newness. Even when I teach the same things, responses will be varied; no two courses will ever be exactly the same.

So I anticipate another year of doing God’s will. As long as I am faithful to His charge, He will bring results. Let the new year begin.