s a math professor, intersections appeal to me. On graph paper, two curves meet, and an equilibrium point appears. Thus, resonating within me is Frederick Buechner’s description of calling: “the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
I envisioned an intersection point—gladness meeting hunger. However, is that enough? When living out a calling in high- er education, what else must intersect?
“Deep gladness” is not always enough. My friend enjoys knitting, but her sweater has
three sleeves. Gifts, abilities, personalities, and strengths vary. Part of faculty calling is teaching.
Teacher and student identities intertwine, but we are called to authentic relationships and mentoring. If I “possessed all knowledge . . . but didn’t love others, I would be nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2 NLT).
Good teaching includes challenging students. Learning is succinct- ly modeled by young Jesus “sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions” (Luke 2:46).
Teaching requires understanding the material. “Knowledge is easy to him who understands” (Prov. 14:6 NKJV).
Teaching requires rationale for learning, connections to life, and awareness that all things, including college classes, “work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
As stewards of gifts, scholarship includes discoveries, authorship, and creative works. Like the parable of the talents, creativity should not be buried, hidden from increase.
Jesus’ parable of the sower describes hard, rocky, thorny, and good soil. My students cite Lee University as “good soil,” contrasting secular schools as “thorny” with sin’s powerful influence and lacking the rich soil of Christian-Pentecostal faith. This emphasizes the influence of college environment.
His boundless love should saturate my graph and be the very ink with which the curves
are drawn. At secular universities, reflecting the gospel is limited; but at Christ-centered universities, a freedom abides, liberating students to consider how their callings fit into God’s story.
After ridicule, Jeremiah attempted silence, but God’s message penetrated his heart “as a burning fire shut up in [his] bones” (20:9). I am thankful for freedom to sprinkle mathematics with the good news.
Thought-provoking questions about math and faith can reveal connections between my academic discipline and the Bible. The loaves-and-fishes miracle would not have seemed miraculous without math.
Leftovers should be small, like remainders in long division. Baskets of surplus are a math miracle!
Being called to faculty has a sense of assignment. A mission field can be a developing-world country, an inner-city slum, or my beautiful brick-covered campus.
Teacher says to a student, “Go light a candle.” He does.
Teacher adds, “Bring more candles, and light them from the first.”
Next, “Has that candle suffered any loss from the fact that other candles have been lit from it?”
This student-professor dynamic is one of sharing gifts, scholarship, and Christian inspiration, and is more complex (in a good way) than an intersection of two curves.
It is a rich and meaningful calling.