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I had the great honor and privilege to teach at Lindenwood University (St. Charles, MO) for nearly 7 years.  For most of this time, I was the Department Chair of Christian Ministry Studies (CMS) and Associate Professor.  Listed below are few reflections during my tenure.

Love for students.  I learned that I love undergraduate students.  These students don’t come with neatly and tidy lives; rather, many are quite broken (like yours truly).  Over the years, many young men have confessed their addiction to pornography.  Many of the young men had practically no relationship with their fathers.  A few have confessed having pre-marital sex to me.  Some come from severely dysfunctional homes.  Some struggled with anxiety issues.  However,  I found that the phrase, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” to be so true with this generation.  Many of these students made me laugh and cry; and many frustrated me and many improved my prayer life!  I really believe many of these lovely students sensed my love for them as many still ask me to write letters of recommendation for them and many still ask me questions via text or email.  And my students know that I love questions!

Love for ideas.  Academia affords the academician a milieu to engage with an assortment of ideas – some logical, some illogical and some paradoxical.  The academy is a place to get intellectual stimulation. Dr. James Evans, President at Lindenwood, often refers to the academy as “the republic of ideas.” This was so true at Lindenwood.  The many disciplines not only made this “republic of ideas” possible but the many countries who sent students to Lindenwood made this possible too.  At Lindenwood there were over 90 different countries represented.  This meant colorful languages, worldviews, cultures and ideas were in abundance. Such diversity of ideas enables one to hone his or her critical thinking skills (this was certainly my experience). And engaging with such a wide assortment of ideas also expanded my worldview (one benefit of a liberal arts education).

Life-on-Life.  I was privileged to participate in many life-on-life contexts with my students because I loved my students by teaching them with excellence (I tried to bring my “A” game every class period);  I loved my students by traveling with them, by praying for and with them, challenging them, listening to them and serving them (e.g., I bought books for some, I helped some find lodging, some I visited in the hospital, some I donated money to, etc.).  In other words, many invited me into their ‘private lives.’  What did this look like? I officiated 4 weddings and participated in 2 weddings of my students.  Some of these students allowed me to provide pre-marital and post-marital counseling.  I was invited to meet their parents and grandparents at meals.  These memories will live on forever in mind as long as I am able to remember.

Love for teaching.  I have been gone from Lindenwood since June 2014 and as the length of time away from Lindenwood widens I realize that I was designed to teach folks.  I long for the classroom. I simply love teaching.  My wife notices my love for teaching.  Others have commented to her about my love for teaching and the impact it has made on their lives. For example, one former math student told my wife this, “I developed a love for math after taking your husband’s class.”  Words like this just fuel me to keep on teaching. And words like this make me weep!

Love for my colleagues. The CMS department was housed in the School of Human Services.  This school is also ‘the home’ for my former Social Work, Nonprofit Administration, Military Science, Criminal Justice and Fire and Paramedic Science colleagues.  I found these dear colleagues to be the most professional, congenial and ‘down to earth’ group of folks I have ever worked with.  This is not to say we did not “have our issues” because we did; but I will miss them as much as I miss my students.  I would be remiss if I did not mention my dear colleagues in LCIE (Lindenwood’s College for Individualized Education).  I ‘cut my teeth’ in this accelerated evening adult program and the colleagues there were so hospitable.

Love-Hate Relationship with Grading.  I have a love-hate relationship with grading.  I love it because grading provides feedback on how well or not so well I taught.  Grading was a way to determine if my students were able to ‘connect the dots.’ I also love grading because often I received assignments that were so well done that they made me smile and cry! (I am serious.)  I do not literally hate grading but I dislike it because it can be so monotonous and because of the finality of grades. An “A” or a “D” will remain on a student’s official transcript into perpetuity.  Because of this finality, grading was quite stressful for me.

These are just a few of my thoughts.

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