As I glance back over the previous post where I listed out those questions I intend to tackle here, openly on my blog, I noticed a somewhat glaring omission. There are no “Why?” questions, not even the most important one: Why do I do what I do?
My life has taking only a small number of twists and turns. In fact, it almost seems as though I have been on track for this current career path ever since I decided to add a mathematics major my second year of college. Continue reading Why I do what I do
I’m about to ramble so take this as fair warning. My blog has been around for a long time and has meandered through many identity crises. Sometimes, it’s a puzzle blog posting interesting mind-benders that need a keen intellect and occasionally, some mathematics. That’s all still here, by the way, which you can find with a not-so-difficult search tool in the sidebar. It’s also been a devotional through my efforts to better understand our responsibilities as stewards of God’s creation. It’s been a log of classroom activities. At one time, I was posting periodically about what I had accomplished in each of my classes. For the last few years, it has been only a repository for sparse events and thoughts in my professional life.
So what is it now? In an effort towards both professional and personal development, it is going to serve this summer as a kind of diary or journal where I attempt to solidify my mission and calling in life. Periodically, there have been times in my life where I doubt my chosen path, I wonder about what might have been, or I simply lack the drive to keep heading down the road I am currently on in life. While I have no doubts about the path I’m on now, I am certainly in a dry spell finding the springs of motivation often running dry, both professionally and spiritually. So, I’m going to write it out and clarify in possibly painful detail what it is I really care about and what I hope to carry out in the coming weeks, months, and years.
If you happen to read this and you’re either one of my faculty, my students, my colleagues, or even my supervisors, should you be concerned about my commitment to my current job responsibilities? Or to say it another way, if I were in your place, would I be worried about someone in my position laying bare their soul about their calling in life? Absolutely not. In spite of all the challenges that have come along with my first year as an academic dean, I am more committed than ever to affecting positive change through our programs. I am more committed than ever to the personal and professional fulfillment of students. I am more committed than ever to fulfilling God’s call on my life. The problem is the that it too often feels like a drudgery than the passion it once was. This is intended to be a rejuvenating exercise that will renew my spirit and strengthen my resolve to see God do his will through me.
Here are just some of the questions I intend to reflect upon:
- What strengths do I have that particularly equip me for this position and what are areas where I need to grow?
- What are specific actions I can take to strengthen those weaknesses or to partner with people who can complement my weaknesses with their strengths?
- What am I afraid to do because I’m afraid we might fail?
- What can I learn from the mistakes I made in my first year as dean?
- How can I keep up and build upon the successes in my first year as dean?
- If I were to squeeze all of my current job responsibilities into 80% of my current time spent on them, what would I do with the other 20% of my time to make a lasting mark on the world?
- Revisit my Personal Mission Statement
- How do I work? How do I make sure I “get things done”? How do I follow through?
- Who are my colleagues, my friends, my mentors/mentees? Where do I go for help?
- How do I balance work and family and faith?
- What can I do to continue to improve?
- The bucket list and the reverse bucket list.
- How did I get here? How do I get to where I am going?
- What do I value most? Prove it.
Here’s hoping I can follow through…
I have a book on my shelf that I’ve probably had for close 15 years. Every once in a while I pull it off the shelf and tell myself that I should read it and try it out. The book is called “List Your Self: Listmaking as the way to Self-Discovery”. The subtitle says that it is “A provocative, Probing and Personal Expedition Into Your Mind, Heart, and Soul”
Seems to me that this is not only great fodder for a blog but also for a social network like facebook. While many meme’s that go around annoy me to no end, there have been a few that have allowed me to know a little more about my online friends (mostly friends from days gone by). That has to be one of my favorite things about Facebook and Twitter, getting to reconnect with old friends and keeping up with all my current ones.
So here it goes, List #1
List the Biggest Turning Points in Your Life
- 1985: In fourth grade, I was recruited to participate in a UIL contest called Number Sense. This definitely started me down a path toward becoming a mathematician and an educator.
- 1985: Also the year that I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. Life would be totally different without Him.
- 1994: Summer I traveled to Bakersfield, CA, to work as a summer missionary. Met Si Budagher and made a lot of good friends, a few of whom would eventually come to Wayland.
- 1994: Senior year in high school when I decided to go to Wayland for college. That was a major life decision considering I met my wife there and now plan on teaching there for as long as they’ll let me.
- 1995: After a year as a Religion major, I missed math too much and decided to add mathematics as a major.
- 1995: Also the year I met the most intriguing, hilarious, intelligent, witty, and beautiful woman that I have ever laid eyes on. I took only a couple of months to learn that I would have to spend the rest of my life getting to know her.
- 1998: Decided to go to Texas Tech to get my graduate degrees in Mathematics. I decided very early that I wanted to teach undergraduate mathematics.
- 1998: Marriage. Almost nothing turns your life around more than this.
- 2000: Children. NOTHING turns your life around more than this. Emily came in August and being a father has become the most fulfilling and challenging job of my life.
- 2000: Wayland hired me as a Mathematics Instructor.
- 2003: Along comes Timothy and we now have both a boy and a girl. The family is seemingly complete. It is the family that both Lori and I had always planned on. We’re most likely done having kids at this point.
- 2004: Along comes Zachary and God reminds us that his plans are better than ours. Life is different and better than we ever imagined. Our family is just not complete without the life of the party, Mr. Z.
- 2005: Completed the Ph.D. My formal schooling after 24 years is finally over. Hard to believe.
- 2007: With all my life goals seemingly met: family, Ph.D., teaching at WBU, I get restless and wonder if I shouldn’t try full-time research for a while. So I do and after 6 months in a bioinformatics post-doc with Dr. Wilkins in Lubbock, I know that I’m cut out to be an educator. Research will have to become my hobby.
- 2008: After commuting for a term, we moved back to Plainview for financial reasons. It’s tough at first but eventually, it becomes clear that this was the right decision.
- 2009: We buy the house of our dreams. Having saved up and having Lori working full-time (without sending any of the kids to day-care) we are in the perfect place to buy our dream house.
- 2009: I have been promoted to Associate Dean and begin in August in a new role as an administrator. Still waiting to see what becomes of this turning point.
That’s a lot of turning points. Not all of them were major changes but most were definitely course corrections in life.
I’m curious, from both the readers of the blog and from my friends on facebook, what are some of your major turning points?
I have decided to return to full-time teaching. Fortunately, Wayland had not filled my position so I will be returning to teach there in the Spring. I am being hired to teach partly in traditional face-to-face classes and partly online. Each semester, I will teach a couple of courses online and a couple of classes in the classroom.
I’m very excited about returning to teach and know that it is where my true passion and calling lies.