Once again I sit upstairs beneath the vaulted ceilings of the Honeycutt Center on the campus of Southern Seminary. The room is still a bit warm from the day’s heat, the lounge has mostly emptied, and the friendly cleaning guy is bellowing hello to the few remaining students as he cleans tables and empties trash cans. For the past few days I’ve been jotting down all sorts of things to write about, but the overwhelming sense tonight is one of comprehensive blessing.
My new job is exciting and full of potential. I get to serve as the Director of Student Life Programs at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the flagship seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention which has stood for a hundred and fifty years and has undergone a dramatic reformation over the past twenty. This opportunity to serve is completely undeserved, and utterly unexpected. We did not move here for this job, nor was it secured when we made our decision to come. I’ve begun meeting and working with the Student Councils of both the college and seminary, and am getting familiar with the few student organizations that I will be overseeing and revamping. I already see fathoms of potential and endless possibilities. People are excited that my new position exists, and it’s deeply encouraging to join the institution as an integral part of a mission whose scope makes me feel rightfully small. On top of all this, I’m spending four out of my five workdays this week in class and orientation, and no one minds. In fact, I’ve been given a high degree of flexibility with my schedule, which is perfect (and necessary) when blending student ministries with academic responsibilities. Since I already know that finding things to do and putting in appropriate time at work won’t be a problem, it’s so helpful to be granted flexibility based on trust. I can’t envision another job that would fit so well.
As for our foundational calling to be here, my new Ph.D. program is already re-kindling old flames. I entered college as a 17-year-old freshman who mainly wanted to play intercollegiate baseball and major in something yet to be determined, but in God’s providence, my haphazardly chosen elementary Greek class launched me on an academic trajectory from which I have never recovered and which I now completely embrace. Eight wonderful years in Student Life at TMC were exactly what I needed, but the pace and emphasis of the ministry drew me away from the joys of biblical exegesis, theological reflection, and careful writing that first began to blossom in those early years. I am forever grateful for what I learned about God and Christ and the Spirit and the gospel and community and counseling and masculinity and leadership during my years in Student Life, and I will never be able to estimate the value of what I learned (and what God changed) about myself. But now, on the heels of that sweet season comes another more focused season — focused on my God-given desires, my confirmed gifting, my unmistakeable calling. This kind of clarity and focus took years of wrestling to discern (or perhaps submit to), but it is such a happy thing, and one for which I always want to remain grateful. I don’t mean to talk about myself so much. This is only a feeble attempt to express my joy and gratitude in the Lord’s guidance and provision, and the happiness of doing what you’re meant to do.
Once again, I take a look around upstairs Honeycutt and see that I’m closing down the lounge. But I am not alone. I am surrounded with blessings, full of them, overwhelmed with them. I pillow my head in a room which has been freely provided, surrounded by a city I am eager to explore, awaiting a family I rejoice to own, receiving a ministry I did not plan, learning from professors I long to imitate, beginning a path I do not doubt, and all beneath the big Kentucky sky that just this day poured out its life-giving blessings on both the just and the unjust.