Sunday, March 27, 2011

falling in love

The past week has been a blur - from St. Paul to Austin to Cincinnati and back to Austin...from interviewing for a College President's position to presenting on the topic of teaching leadership to catching up on my blog...from rainy weather to snow and ice to 80 degrees to 30 degrees and back to 80 degrees...from making new friends and colleagues to catching up with past friends and colleagues...from fear to joy to nervousness to confidence to anxiousness...let's suffice it to say that my emotions pretty much ruled the week and I'm ready for an uneventful and fairly boring week. Having invested myself in the presidential search process over the past several months, I finally came face to face with that entity which had consumed me - Concordia University, St. Paul. We spent 48 hours together, dancing together, wooing one another, and I slowly but surely fell in love with the place and its people. The questions I had going in were quickly answered and what I discovered was a gem - a jewel - a beautiful representation of what a Lutheran urban institution of higher learning should be. Concordia University, St. Paul (or as it is more affectionately known, CSP) resonates with who I am and what I most believe about Lutheran higher education. It represent for me what I love and care about:

  • a commitment to the broad spectrum of student engagement - music, drama, athletics, fine arts, student-faculty engagement, service learning, travel, student leadership, and more.

  • a commitment to serving students in the margins - not only does CSP find funds for these students to attend an institution of higher learning, they provide positions and people to support these students, many of whom are first generation college students.

  • a commitment to the community - CSP is located right among homes, apartments, businesses, high income households, low income households, and in-between income households. The community (which has a strong international flavor) sees CSP as its college, using it for plays, exercise, classes, gatherings, and support. CSP is not in institution FOR the community, but an institution OF the community.

  • a commitment to diversity - diversity is not just a marketing slogan for CSP - it is an integral part of who they are and how they function as a community, supporting the learning process and enriching the lives of its students, faculty and staff.

  • a commitment to the best aspects of Lutheran higher education - there is a consistent dialogue going on that wants to understand and figure out what it means to be distinctly Lutheran and how that "ethos" supports the learning environment.

  • a commitment to excellence - whether it is in the classroom, in the theatre, in the music building, on the athletic courts and fields (4 consecutive national volleyball chamionships), as well as in the support services and the administration of the institution, everyone wants to do an outstanding job in their calling and vocation.

  • a commitment to the church - CSP is affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and considers itself to be a university of the Church. That understanding shapes its culture, its way of being, its programs, and its mission. As they wrestle with what that means in the 21st century, they are willing to question how that looks and how best to serve the church at large as a partner in its broader mission.

And so I fell in love (I have to admit that I felt as if I was "cheating" on my current institution, Concordia University Texas). With falling in love can also come several things that caught me by surprise:

  • every institution has its warts (some may even see them as gross disfigurations). However, it is the warts and all that makes that insititution the place it is today

  • some people have not fallen in love with the institution - in fact, they may not even like it at all. I suppose if everyone liked any given entity, it would be very dull and not have its own unique personality

  • falling in love is an emotional venture - I found myself feeling "verklempt" during much of my time there (and still do) as I got to know more and more people and emotionally invested myself in them and the institution

  • the preparation and anticipation made falling in love much easier than I thought it would be. My time on campus was meant to confirm whether I would "fall in love" or not...and I did (head over heels)

  • falling in love may not always guarantee a reciprocal feeling. There was a point during my visit in which I saw myself as having fallen in love with CSP and realizing that they might not chose to call me for this position - an interesting moment in time that affected me deeply

  • falling in love changes one's view of the rest of the world - I fear I might start begin comparing everything else to what I felt and saw at Concordia University, St. Paul. The last thing my colleagues will want to hear for the next month or so is "at CSP they do it another way..."

  • one person can have two loves at the same time - I love Concordia University Texas and know that should my calling and vocation remain there, I will embrace it 110% and serve its mission with a renewed sense of engagement and vigor. At the same time, I have a new view of the world (and one which has changed me for the better) because of what I saw and experienced at CSP.

And so I spend one more week waiting patiently to see how I and my wife will spend the next years of our lives. God's plan for His Kingdom is always beyond what I can know at any given time. And maybe that is where I most need to place my love - to commit myself (talents, time, and treaures) to the growth of God's Kingdom, so that I can most fully live out my personal mission statement of "living life abundantly and helping others do the same." We'll see what happens - and what the future brings.


Shelly said...

I'm on the edge of my seat! If you go, I will miss you terribly at my graduation. Sniffle...sniffle...

Andrew said...

What an exciting thing to occur, many prayers for you and your wife right now and also for CSP to make a God-pleasing decision.