Commencement

20170603_185043Adjunct life is not easy.

We’re known to be “freeway flyers,” creatures who move quickly from campus to campus, city to city, to keep all of the plates spinning at the many (and various) institutions where we serve. (I myself am currently teaching at three schools along the I-5 corridor, about 60 miles apart.)

There are no offices. When we land it’s just long enough to teach the day’s class, perhaps take a meeting with a student or sympathetic faculty member, and then it’s off again — to another school, or child care, or a church meeting, or another part-time job.

I’m not complaining. I have been doing this long enough, and am sufficiently realistic about the present state of the academic job market, that I am only grateful for what work I have. I get to teach what I love to some wonderful men and women.

At this time of the year I am especially grateful for Commencement. It’s an opportunity to be included in the greater life of an institution, and at perhaps its most existentially significant moment: commissioning and sending students — now colleagues and friends, really — out into the world.

The robes may be rented, and not officially for the university I come from. Many of the students crossing the stage may not even know who I am. But for those with whom I’ve spent hours in the classroom puzzling over difficult theological texts, in hallway discussions, in the mundane moments of grading their papers, and in those glorious chances to glimpse their vision for their future ministries — it’s all worth it.

Adjunct life isn’t what I thought I was signing up for. It’s not easy. But I started this journey because I was once that young person, and my teachers inspired me to take hold of my own future and step into who God was calling me to be. I “commenced”; I went out to the next thing, and then the next, and then the next.

And I didn’t care if they were freeway flyers. Only that they had given me a glimpse of the future.

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Adjuncting in the Pacific Northwest

SPUThough I grew up in Oregon it’s been nearly 15 years since I last lived here.  Moving our family back from Aberdeen, Scotland at the end of 2012 certainly been a significant homecoming — in more ways than one.

While I continue to surf the job market for full-time employment in higher education, I am of course doing what every self-respecting recent graduate does: trying to get work adjuncting.  There are a decent number of Christian institutions in the Pacific Northwest, so I’ve been knocking on doors.

During the winter quarter I’ve been blessed to return home to my undergraduate alma mater, and teach an introduction to theology course at Seattle Pacific University.  UFDN 3100 is a foundations course required of all undergraduates at this Free Methodist liberal arts college, and my class this term was filled with 50 non-majors from across the university’s disciplines: psychology students, biologists, music majors, and many more.  The course is wrapping up now (only final exams left to grade), and it has been extraordinarily rewarding.

I had planned to try for more work in the fall, but circumstances have allowed me to step right into another very exciting role.  Starting April 1 I’ll teach a course in systematic theology for the spring quarter at Fuller Theological Seminary.  The Northwest extension campus is here in Seattle (actually just down the block from SPU).  This course, on ecclesiology and eschatology, is the third in fuller’s sequence of basic ST courses.  With a full-time position still waiting down the road, I’m hoping to stay on with Fuller next school year.  It’s a tremendous institution that is certainly unparalleled on the West Coast, and I’m thrilled to be a part of its work training ministers for the service of the gospel.

All that, and I’ve just signed my first publishing contract for a new book project (more on that later).  2013 is turning out to be an exciting year!