Friday, March 4, 2011

wondering about the future

It's official...I am now one of three people being considered for the position of President at Concordia University St. Paul, one of the ten Concordia University System colleges and universities. CSP (as it is affectionately known) is one of our sister schools and their retiring president has been in place for 20 years. It is in an urban setting (right next to I-94 just west and south of the city center) situated in a very diverse community. It is exciting to consider the possibilities of this next step of leadership for me and to imagine what an urban Lutheran university can become as it serves its region and the church at large.

I thought I would take this platform today to share a few of my thoughts over the past several weeks. I do this to help leaders understand the "land of in between" that we often go through. I find myself living in the future and the present at the same time, and wonder where exactly I need to be. So here are a few Friday morning random thoughts to help guide myself - and others - through the "land of in between."
  • I wonder if I should be thinking that I will be getting the position (seems presumptuous) or that I will not be getting the position (seems too unassuming). I've decided to picture myself in the least until they tell me otherwise.
  • About a week ago I went from "this is fun and a great learning process" to " I could actually be president of a university!" It was a VERY scary moment and one which brought the reality of this process home to me.
  • Each day seems to be a rollercoaster. One moment I feel as if I can do the job and have the skills and tools to do it well...the next I am wondering why I ever made the list in the first place and feel embarassed to be going for an interview. I guess it is the later thought that keeps me humble and spurs me on to learn more in getting ready for the interview.
  • The more I read and learn, the less I really know (that's called getting an education). Someone said the other day that no one is ever really ready to be a president...perhaps that applies also to leadership - is anybody ever really READY to lead?
  • I keep getting asked (and asking myself) WHY I want to take on this role. It has been a tremendous gift for me to answer this question as it goes to the motives of leadership. The answer is beginning to come out more and more as "I've been given the gifts to be able to do this, so if God sees fit to call me to this position, I need to be able to accept that responsibility."
  • I am learning a lot about myself...when people are being nice to me and saying things like, "We would hate to lose you," or "You'd make a good president," I always ask them why they believe that. Two things happen - it forces them to articulate what they believe a good leader should be and it tells me about myself and to what I need to pay more attention.
  • I have set up a series of mock interviews with different groups of people, and after finishing the second one the other day, I felt whipped. Here's what I'm learning: 1) interviewing is harder than I thought it would be (special thanks to those who are helping me with this); 2) I have to do away with some of my nervous habits (and still remain myself); and 3) there is a lot to learn to be ready for this type of interview.
  • It's a God thing - people keep reminding me (and I myself) that God is in control and that He is walking with me (and the other candidates) through this process. This is the time when faith and trust can really kick in and be evident in my life.
  • This process includes more people than myself - and it especially includes my wife. She is as anxious as I am about what this whole thing means for her and me. As we sit and talk, we get excited and anxious at the same time. The future is a scary thing - and yet is full of new adventures.

So that is my "land of in between" - a place where much learning can take place and we can change as individuals. I suppose this change can be good or bad - depends on our attitudes and who and what we invite in to join us on the journey. I'll keep you updated as to what happens next...

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