It is every professor's privilege to help his or her students not only amass knowledge in a specific discipline, but also help them to grow into better human beings. Part of the commission - the 'call' if you will - to teach is that you not only share a knowledge base, but that you enable those students to wisely apply the knowledge that has been bequeathed to him or her. I realize that this might be an idea unique to the Christian educational perspective, but I hope not. Being a teacher is a weighty call.
This past fall however, I was involved with a group of young women that changed me. They are the Lady Jacket Soccer Team - specifically four young ladies, their coach, a university photographer and a student groupie. All six of the young women (four players, a university photographer and the soccer 'groupie') had been or are in my Old Testament Introduction class. The coach is a valued friend of mine. Together, they did something that I try to do in all my classes - they showed me that I was valuable.
It is one of my deepest concerns that all of my students not only take away information from my classes and be able to wisely apply that information in their lives, but they walk away from my classes experiencing "value" - when they leave they know that each of them is valued as a person. Sometimes I am successful at that, sometimes I am not so successful - nevertheless it is something for which I aim. This fall, as I have had a "full plate" on my table, so to speak, I have wondered as to whether I have fallen short or not in my aim. Hopefully, I have succeeded, but I have had my doubts. Indeed, this fall has been a very trying time for me personally. Many prayerful decisions have been made and changes are in the works. But in the midst of all of these issues - these seven plus people - six young women, a coach and a soccer team - have shown me that I have value. They have shown me that the time I have spent in the classroom and as a participant in greater university life has made a difference. I needed to know that as much as they needed to know that they are valued too.
So my hat is off to the 2010 Lady Jacket Soccer Team, and especially, Sam, Kerrie, Bri, Mallory, Shannon, Megan and Kayla. Thank you for reaching out to me (though you didn't even know it!) when I was at a crossroads. It has made a difference. Thank you for your character - it is such a rarity in our time and culture. Thank you for your studious pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. But most of all thank you for the care and time you have shared with me. I am a better person because of who you are.
For those of you who are wondering - I am the guy right in the middle of the 'swarm' on the back row. STING 'EM Ladies!