January 27, 2017

On the Right Track

Happy Friday! Yes, it is FRI-YAY! I am rejoicing in the goodness of the Lord today. It has been a long week, and frankly, I am so very tired. I struggled to fall asleep last night, and then I tossed and turned throughout the night, before finally waking up around 9:30 this morning. It is now 10:30, and well, I haven’t done much of anything except check email, drink my coffee, and down a bagel. Sigh!

My whole little world is kicking into high gear. I am struggling with doubt, with fear, and with the thought of what the Lord might really ask me to do when He finally says, “Let’s go!” I blogged about my willingness to go yesterday, and in one short day, I have applied to two different positions — one at Regent (for COM) and one at the University of Wisconsin-Superior (for Literature). The COM position is a long shot, but the recruiter felt I should apply for it rather than for the English position I had applied for two weeks ago. I really doubt the Lord intends to move me to VA, but I stepped out in faith, and I applied nonetheless.

The second position was one that I had seen for a couple weeks, but I had overlooked it because it wasn’t really in my field. Yesterday, while browsing Higheredjobs.com, I decided to actually look at the job with my attention to detail, and I realized that it would be a good fit so long as it is online and not a campus-based job. Some job listings do not clearly state that they are online. They may say the instructor will teach online, but there is an assumption that the candidate will live in the area. I googled Superior, and well, let’s just say “Frozen Tundra!” Yes, Superior, WI is located right across the river from Duluth, MN. Oh my goodness! Furthermore, it is so far away from life, really life as I know it, but if the position was truly online, and they would hire me, well, I would be overjoyed with the opportunity.

Right now, however, I am thinking that perhaps the Lord is simply “priming the pump” so to speak. He is asking me to prove my faith, and with that, I am submitting resumes for places that seem at odds with His will — not in that they are far from my experience — but that they are places we haven’t really discussed as “potential” relocation spots. For example, while I love VA, I have never really felt a call to teach on campus. I love to visit the school — and every time I am there — I say, “Lord, I love this place!” I mean to say that I love the vibe I get on campus, and of course, I love the school. I just never have felt that the Lord wanted me to relocate to VA.

This small school in northern WI is another case in point. I have never felt the call to northern WI, well not until recently. I have been feeling that the Lord may want me to go and teach in Green Bay, but I thought that was more because of my son’s recent experience there and his desire to move there after graduation. Still, I think to myself, “Lord, I don’t know what you are doing, but if you ask me to apply, I will apply.” The school sent me an auto-reply yesterday, and then today, I received an email asking me to submit letters of recommendation and a syllabi sample. These were on the application, but I didn’t have a chance to upload them. I will put together the rest of what they want and send it over later tonight or tomorrow. Personally, I still cannot imagine that this would be the door the Lord intends to open for me. Why?

Well, for one, the location. Two, it is teaching online literature courses and not composition courses. I have always felt that He wanted me to settle in composition, but this job is specifically literature oriented. Third, it is not an Assistant Professor/tenure-track job; it is for a Sr. Lecturer position, but only for one year. Last, the job requires evidence of teaching and curriculum development. I have the teaching experience, but I am just now beginning to develop curriculum (at GCU). Still, all things considered, I have the requisite experience and education.

My desire is not so much for the position or title, rather it is for an opportunity to grow in my field and to develop my skills and abilities as both an instructor and an academic. My desire is for leadership someday, and I feel that I have two options — move toward academics (teaching and research) — or move toward administration. This position would help me toward the latter, I think. Perhaps the Lord feels it would be a good stepping stone for me. Perhaps He thinks the one-year contract would simply address my needs. I don’t know, I just don’t know.

What I do know is that He does have a plan for my life, and that plan seems to be coming to pass. Interesting, the quote I attached at the top of this post suggests that if you really want to try something new, you have to actually “try” something new. I like the idea because I think a lot of people dream about doing something different in their life, but then never take any steps toward making that happen. They simply wait for the “thing” to drop in their lap or for someone to hand the “thing” to them. I have found that if I want to do something, I am better off doing it myself than waiting around for another person, who may or may not think my timing is critical or that I “need” the thing at all.

Lately, I have been sensing this movement from God. When He moves in my life, things typically begin to change. I have had this pattern repeat itself so many times that I am pretty well used to it by now. But, the change still causes some upset, and the change still brings me a bit of confusion. Take these positions, for example. I have been praying for a full-time job for a while. I know that I must graduate in May for that job to materialize. I must complete my work, be prepared to go, and take care of everything on my plate to ensure that I am ready when He says, “Let’s go!” I am overwhelmed most days, and I am filled with doubts about my abilities, my skills, etc. Can I really do this level of work? Am I really qualified to do it?

I see my colleagues receiving appointments for Assistant or Associate Professor roles, and I think they are so much more prepared, better able, more skilled than I am. Yet, I have similar credentials to them, so I know I am ready for this next step. Still, I wonder if being a Lecturer is the right step for me. In the progression of academic hierarchy, the roles begin with adjunct and move to Professor. In between there are steps that one must move through based on experience and education. So for example, an adjunct instructor can be part-time or full-time, but they are not tenure (ranked) positions (they can be terminated at will). The next position is Lecturer and Sr. Lecturer, which generally is a full-time position. These roles are not tenure ranked, but they typically are contracted for one or more years, and while they can be terminated at will, they usually are not terminated unless funding is cut short or the person totally messes up and needs to be fired. The education required for adjunct instructors and lecturers in most states is a Master’s degree in the field. The first step on the tenure track or ranked scale is Assistant Professor and this position requires a PhD. Usually, recent grads are hired as Assistant Professors whereas Associate and full professors require years of experience, examples of publication, leadership, etc. So for me to move to a lecturer position is a next step, but it doesn’t get me ranked. Some might say that with my PhD, I should only go for Assistant roles. I am not sure. I feel like it depends on the job. If I want to learn a new skill, add to my resume, a lecturer role might suit me well.

My prayer right now is for an open door to a position that will move me to where the Lord desires that I should go. This means a couple of things:

  1. A stepping stone to tenure track
  2. A convenient job that fits my skills and abilities
  3. A decent pay check that will afford me a comfortable life
  4. A challenge that will help me develop leadership skill
  5. A willingness by the hiring department to give me a shot
I feel that there is no reasonable hope that a job will open up in Phoenix. I really feel the Lord is calling me to move elsewhere, but that elsewhere is dependent on a job offer. So the next step is a job offer. I cannot get an offer without applying, thus it follows that I must apply to a job first. I have taken two big leaps of faith this week, and now I am resting and waiting to see what the Lord intends to do. I figure the following can come to pass…
  1. No request for interview (my application is turned down)
  2. Request for interview (I am in the running)
  3. Verification of intent and background (I have the job)
  4. Official offer letter (I am hired)
Until, step one or two comes to pass, I have to be patient and wait. The Lord has me well covered, and I know that He will close the doors that are not a good fit, and He will open those that are. I must trust Him in this process, and I must let the rest wait. I must let this go, give it to Him, and take from Him my leave, my rest, and my willingness to let Him work the process as He determines it is best.
In Closing

As I close this blog post, I realize that I am actually okay with what might come to pass. Even if I had to move to Superior, WI, I would go so long as the job is the Lord’s provision for me. If the job turns out to be truly online (hooray), but if it is a local/online position, well, should these folks offer it to me, I would have to go, I would have to accept it as part of the Lord’s provision for me. Yes, frozen tundra aside, I would simply need to purchase very warm woolies and a good hat. Like the good folks from Scandinavia say, “There is no bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.” Sigh. Lord, I will go; yes,  I will go.

No comments: