Signing Off: Greg Jones Bids Farewell
Friends and Colleagues:
After three years of service as the grad rep for the Conference on Faith and History, today marks my final work in the position. I’m passing the torch to Mary Sanders, an Oklahoma State University PhD student and enthusiastic member of the CFH. I’m certain Mary will do a great job for us.
Just by way of update, I am still finishing my doctoral work at Kent State University. This fall I’ll be teaching via a temporary appointment at Geneva College, my alma mater. I’ve been working as a part time instructor there for a few years and love it. God is very good in His provision.
I thought I’d finish off my work at the CFH with a few personal reflections. It is not an easy position to be both a Christian and a scholar. I’ve learned that I need to spend a lot of time focusing more on Christ and less on my career. Here are a few points of perspective for your consideration.
First, I learned that God provides. I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a college professor. In fact, I started talking about it in middle school. My parents smartly reminded me that I might consider actually attending college before I thought about teaching it. God opened the doors for my MA and PhD programs in ways that are hard to describe. When I faced the ending of my adjunct work at Kent State, God provided the opportunity at Geneva. I’ve learned a lot lately about the foolishness of cutting pieces of scripture out of context to suit our own needs, but I have to say the “seek ye first” passage [Matt. 6:33] seems true in any context. Seek first God’s wisdom and righteousness, before personal career, and He will bless your work (albeit not always how you envisioned).
Second, I learned that no matter the work, my family matters most. Without getting too autobiographical, I’d just like to say that time spent with family is never lost time. For those of us with small children bouncing around our rooms, it may be difficult to focus on that book review or last minute edit, but time spent with family is never lost. Don’t use family as a crutch to miss out on responsibilities, but remember that family is the root of life. When you put them in the acknowledgements of your book one day, you want to mean what you say about their support. Don’t cut yourself off from that which brings real blessing.
Third, I learned that nothing is promised. Not a day is promised to us. We have to live for the moment not in a hedonistic sense, but to do our best. I may never teach another class. The higher education bubble may burst any day, closing our access to ever teaching or researching again. So enjoy today. Read what you must, but also read what drives you. Tomorrow is not promised so work and play as hard as you can today. When I hear colleagues whining and complaining about how much work they have to do, I can’t help but feel for them. This “job” is such a blessing to me. Do I always love grading? Of course not. Do I always love meetings? No way. But do I count it a blessing to work in the conditions I do with people that I love, reading and discussing the things that matter most? Of course.
Wherever you are in your program, or even if you’re a non-academic that surfed your way to this entry, keep working. Keep your hand to the plow. Keep your nose to the stone. Work, love, play, and embrace the world that we have. God is good and His bounty is not complete. Seek Him. Listen to His guidance in career, in research, in writing, and in teaching. Faith is more than a nice set of moral standards for conducting our lives. Faith is the lived evidence of a Living God. Testify with your life, with your work, and with all that you are.
Thank you, again, to the CFH for inviting me to this position. Thank you to my fellow graduate students who have shared in CFH panel discussions or corresponded with me. Thank you to the grad students who will carry on after me. It is my prayer that the organization continues to grow, beaming the Light of Christ in the midst of an ever-darkening Academy. Let us be a beacon of hope for the Kingdom of God.