There’s a vocational counterpart to buyer’s remorse. You’re all too familiar with buyer’s remorse. At least I’m pretty sure. No one who lives long in a world where almost everything is oversold will go unscathed by the phenomenon. You buy something like a house or a laptop or a car or for that matter a cat. Within your first few days (or minutes in some cases) of brand spanking new ownership you sense something squirming just off the edges of your radar. The dishwasher leaks – what else doesn’t work that I don’t know about? The cat likes to pee anywhere but her litter box. The car develops a suspicious noise. Why did I buy this car? Why this cat?
New jobs do the same thing to us. No newsflash about that. The peeing cat in my new job was my own lack of first hand experience with Graduate Faculty Ministries. I know InterVarsity well enough. I worked in undergrad ministry for 19 years. I have a masters degree in divinity – I’ve actually been a graduate student. But I realize how little I actually know about doing ministry among graduate students and faculty in the secular university. What was I thinking?
On my way to the new job, one of my former IV supervisors gave me terrific book – The Two Tasks of the Christian Scholar. It became the first of several great reads that helped me get a better idea of what I was getting into. My second book was Finding God Beyond Harvard. This book fueled my baby vision for GFM. Kelly Monroe Kullberg talks about the evangelistic ministry of Veritas Forum. In grad school after grad school at our nation’s top universities she writes a travelogue of all the ground work that went into Veritas outreach events. The stories are so inspiring. The more I read the less I’m worried about my peeing cat.
Here’s another conversion story you should read about if you have a minute. Yes people at Harvard do find Jesus. Like Sarah in my previous post, Mark Shepard’s story has similar starting points. Non-christian background. Actually rejected his family’s Jewish beliefs and gravitated to atheism. Firm belief in the incompatibility of faith and rationality. “Life should be based on logical optimization and be free from emotional thinking.”
Finding God for Mark began the same way as with Sarah – friendship with a Christian. A thoughtful, outgoing Christian tutor unafraid of extending his faith. Mark was impressed that Christians could be so intellectually deep and yet open to difficult questions. Most striking to me was Mark’s insight about sin and evil. He realized his own atheistic naturalism by comparison gave him very little explanation for the existence of evil. He was also surprised to discover the reality of personal sin in the very fabric of Harvard’s intellectual elitism.
Just for the record, I do have a cat. Her name is Aspen. She’s a delightful little green eyed gray haired tortie that has never peed anywhere except her litter box. No real buyer’s remorse with my cat or my job!