Conversations

Susan Siaw,
Professor of Development Psychology,
California State Polytechnic University,
Pomona, CA

[Nov 18, 2012]

Over the years, as Christian faculty at Cal Poly Pomona, we’ve paid for an ad to be placed in the campus newspaper.   I was the person who initiated that effort here and I think it is worth doing again. It has proved an effective way of identifying ourselves as believers—perhaps the first step in creating conversations with other faculty and students about our hope in Christ.

I’ve posted copies of the 8 different ads we’ve used on the bulletin board outside my office.  I’ve noticed students stopping to read the ads.  It’s opened the door to conversations.

About three weeks ago, I had a freshman from my class come to my office during student hours.  She walked in my office, immediately mentioned that she read the ads on my board.  She said  she was happy to know that I and someone I co-teach with are Christians (our names were listed below the ads).  With that conversation started, I told her about the Cru ministry here, invited her to join us at the weekly meeting.  She came.

On another occasion, I was interviewing a potential graduate student in my office.  I saw her reading the ads before her interview.  When she came in for the interview, she told me that she had been involved in InterVarsity as an undergraduate—the ads no doubt opening the door to sharing more openly about her spiritual journey.

Frequently, we’ve used ads at the beginning of the term to express a ‘Welcome to the Campus” by those of us who are followers of Christ.  Knowing there are professors who identify themselves unashamedly as Christ-followers can make all the difference in a new student’s journey.  They know there is someone on campus to whom they can go with questions about issues beyond their studies.

Holidays are also excellent opportunities for expressing our Christian belief in appropriate timely ways.  Faculty Commons have made some suggested ads available here.  Many campuses, however, find a creative person(s) on their campus who can design the ad.  Using our Christian faculty fellowship or a signup letter, we get faculty can sign their names, affirming what we believe about the real meaning of Christmas or the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ or the power of giving thanks to God.

Let me encourage you to check out this link and some of the examples of ads used by Christian faculty around the country.  I think you’ll find such ads will open the door to conversations about things of eternal significance.

(c)2012 Susan Siaw

Out of Control

Phil Bishop

Kinesiology

University of Alabama

[Nov 25, 2012]

“It is important to know that there is not just one thing that is causing stress in our lives, but it is a number of things. The key is building in a sense of control-ability in small ways.” Dr. BT, U of X Professor of Psychology, as quoted on ABC News.

So what does Professor BT expect? That we get a “sense” of controlling things, or that we really control them? It seems that the “sense” to which she refers is a delusion at best. In other words, good professors hope to fool ourselves into thinking we have a measure of control. But in reality, control is ever out of our grasp. James 4:13-16 says that although we plan for tomorrow, life itself is NOT in our control.

Let’s consider what we can control:

  •  our emotions – Well, MOST of the time. Or, at least I can hide them, but I guess I can’t really totally control them. They get “out in front”” on many occasions.
  •  our attitude – At least, I can control it a bit, when I want to, but thank you very much, I am pretty happy with my attitude and you should butt out.
  •  our tongue – Wait a minute – forget that previous paragraph.
  •  our health – I attempt to control it by exercising, eating right, resting and all that stuff, but one car running a red light can kabosh all that.

It’s far easier to list the things I cannot control:

  • weather
  • the stock market
  • inflation
  • job security
  • my grown children’s’ decisions
  • attitudes and behaviors of others
  • my friends
  • my colleagues
  • my students
  • my research funding
  • my selection for any number of awards (that I greatly deserve)
  • oh yeah, my ego, and lots of other stuff

So I guess the best I can hope for is to control my “sense” of control (i.e. to control my delusion). But I can’t control kidding myself too long. I have no control over what matters most. I have little control over family, friends, the Christian Church or the Holy Spirit.

And, I’m okay with that (or perhaps I should be). Control is way over-rated, even by our Psych colleague quoted above. God is sovereign. Control is in His capable hands, not mine.

The message to Christian profs is clear. We have a great opportunity to impact the world for Christ. We have talents to do it. If we get caught up worrying about our next pay raise or promotion, we may be taken out of the fight without having done anything. This might just be a strategy the enemy employs knowing we are among the weakest when it comes to relinquishing control.

So perhaps we can take comfort in being out of control, and just do what God is calling us to do. God is calling us to obedience, and we CAN control how earnestly we respond to that.

(c) 2012 Phil Bishop

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