Thursday, October 16, 2008

10 Commandments for Christian Professors

After submitting a grant proposal yesterday, I have felt much relaxed today (at least until now). I thought I needed to get back to the book I have been writing. As I was surfing various web pages to look for some information, I ran into an article entitled "10 Commandments for the Workplace," which came from the following source: "How to be a Godly Employee based on the Ten Commandments By Drew M. Crandall, Northeast Christians at Work." As I was reading it, I said "Amen" to all item, and also realized how many times I have violated some of them. Without proper permission from the author, I changed some words to translate better to Christian Professors. Plus, I also replaced the content in the fourth commandment with the scripture as the original content did not fit well with academic world. So here you go!

1. Trust in God only.
Trust in no one but God. People will disappoint you. God created you, He loves you, and has a wonderful plan for your life. He is too good to do wrong, and too wise to make a mistake, even when the “fur is flying.” Let His peace abide in you. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

2. Worship God only.
Don’t make your career, your university/college/program, or your administrator a god. If you do, you will provoke Him to jealousy and will end up fighting Him. In fact, He may hinder you from achieving what you want until you are broken of the idolatry. (Exodus 20:5)

3. Use God's name reverently.
Don’t swear! Clean words come out of a clean heart. If your non-Christian colleagues know you’re a Christian, but they hear the Lord’s name used in vain, cursing and swearing coming out of your mouth, you will give the appearance of being a hypocrite. (Matthew 15:17-19)

4. Work six days and rest on the seventh.
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work (e.g., preparing your lectures, grading papers, writing manuscripts, etc), but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.... For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-10a)

5. Respect your administrators.
You should respect your administrators, because you don’t know what it’s like to be in their shoes. Plus, your ultimate boss is the Lord. Serve Him faithfully on the job, and He will bless you! However, if your administrators command you to do something illegal or immoral, you must make a stand and obey God rather than men. (Ephesians 6:5-8)

6. Protect and respect human life.
Emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical manipulation, abuse, and violence have no place on campus…or any place. You do not have the right to use and abuse your administrators, your colleagues, support staff, or your students. (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2)

7. Be true to your spouse.
If you’re not getting the kind of attention and affection that you feel you deserve at home, it’s common to seek it with someone at work. Honor your wedding vows by avoiding campus romances! They are very real, very tempting, and very common. They’re also very wrong and very destructive. (Matthew 19:8-9)

8. Don't take what belongs to others.
Stealing at work can take many forms. You can choose to steal materials, money, time, productivity, and joy from your employer, co-workers, customers, and suppliers. Don’t remove your integrity by stealing. (2 Corinthians 7:1-2)

9. Do not lie about others.
Do not fabricate stories about your administrators or colleagues or support staff, and spread gossip for the sake of politics. You’re here to be salt and light, not pepper and darkness! Truth always rises to the surface, and eventually you will be ashamed and rebuked if you lie. (2 Peter 2:10-13)

10. Be satisfied with what you have.
Contentment doesn’t mean that you can’t pursue God-given goals…but it does mean that you’re content with what He has provided you with day by day. Contentment is a rare quality in today’s culture…but it is extremely liberating! Materialism, striving for rank, and discontent leads to emotional, mental, financial, and spiritual bondage. (1 Timothy 6:6-11)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Preparing for a new semester

Unlike my former institutions, we as faculty members at Calvin College prepared ourselves for a new semester with "Fall Conference." We met at the chapel; all faculty and staff members were invited. I sat with Glen, my colleague who has been retired (I am actually his replacement). As I stepped into the chapel, I immediately thought of my first time visiting this place during the interview. As soon as I stepped into this place back then, I fell in love with it. I loved the fact that the chapel was a place I could run to meditate and pray.

Andy DeJong, our chaplain, invited us to the worship by saying: "Be still, be still... be still, and know that I am God." Be still? I asked. You (God) knew that I have had restless days to prepare syllabi, adjust to this new environment, prepare sermons to lead two-day retreat tomorrow, and other incomplete tasks. I could calm myself down when I get some of these things done, but not now, LORD. I really need to get things done. I am not quite prepared for tomorrow and new semester; plus, my daughter needs to see a doctor today, and I am stuck in the chapel. Provost and other colleagues made quick presentations, but my mind wasn't there.

At that moment, Lee Hardy, a colleague in Philosophy, walked to the podium and explained something. I was still ruminating other things and I could not quiet myself to listen to him carefully. However, I heard him saying that he wrote the text with other colleagues and someone else composed a song. So it seemed that Lee Hardy was introducing the text he wrote. I found that the text was printed in the handout:

LORD, to You Our Hand and Heart We Offer (title)

We stand in the grand arena of God, the Glorious One!
LORD help this academy demonstrate the wisdom of Your ways
The law of the LORD is perfect, informing all we do;
Word of Life for all,
Help for those who fall, guiding the way through the cross to truth and peace.

LORD, open our eyes to see you in nature's hand I work,
to marvel at how your hand leads in all of human history.
Renew our minds, O Spirit, so oft with darkness filled;
Flood our work with light
to re-create our sight, so we may serve as the steward of your world


LORD, to You our hands and hearts we offer
Keep us faithful to your call, we pray
With the rigor of our minds--
We'll serve you all our best for you!

LORD, to You our hands and hearts we offer;
Keep us faithful to your fall, we pray
Guide us in the work that brings your Kingdom, as we rest in you!

I wasn't sure how they came up with this text. However, I did know that the text pointed to our logo (see the second pic above). A music professor sang first to help us learn the song for a person like me. As she sang, each word somehow reminded me of the sleepless night when I finally accepted Calvin's offer. After a long wrestling on that night, I realized that it was God's call to serve Calvin College that I had to offer my heart, intellect, experience, family, and anything I had.

With this song/text, I was able to remember the call. Yes, I was supposed to be still there and know that the One who called me to this place was God. With this realization, my heart and mind got really quiet; I was able to be still... and know that He (who called me) is God. I left the chapel with peace, confidence, and humility.

LORD, I exalt YOU. Please continue to help me remember your call.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

We'll have final exam soon!

... We will miss you... but we won't miss finals...Hummmm!

Monday, April 21, 2008

The last class at Indiana University

I don't remember exactly how I felt during the first day of class at Indiana University. It was nine years ago, and it was an undergraduate class. I had almost 180 students in class. What I still remember are students' faces. They looked uncertain, curious, disappointed, uninterested, tired, etc. I have been really curious about students' first impression on me. While no single student would be amazed by my good looking face, they might wonder about this professor who has an Asian face and speaks strong Korean accent. Some students might be tempted to drop the class. Other students might think that their instructor might be one of the Bruce Lee's cousins who may give them some tips for nice side kicks.

I really cannot guess what students thought of me in my first class at IU. I never asked about it. However, I can easily talk about my last class at IU, since it happened a few days ago. It was one of the graduate classes entitled "Introduction to Research Methods" and students came from applied health sciences, kinesiology, and recreation. I had a few PhD students, too. As this was one of the distance learning classes, we also filmed the lectures and sent DVD to distance learning students.

At the end of 2 hours and 30 minutes lecture (we used to take 10 min break), I was expecting that students would leave the room like a bullet. On that last day, students did not leave and they smiled at me. I felt really awkward. As I did not have dinner before the class, I was thinking of eating a delicious Korean meal at home. In my mind, I was exclaming: "please let me go!!!"

As Katie, one of doctoral students in athletic training, brought pizza into the studio (the classroom), students were clapping their hands (probably due to their excitement for pizza or freedom from me...). All of sudden, students expressed their appreciations and passed me a thank-you card (I was able to see all the names and signatures of the students!). Before I ate pizza, I paused for giving thanks to the LORD for food. As I opened my eyes, I began to hear a song entitled "To sir with love." Everybody was quiet and encouraged me to hear the song. When I heard the following lyric, I cried. I could not control it.
"... And as I leave I know that I am leaving my best friend. A friend who taught me right from wrong and weak from strong, that's a lot to learn. What what can I give you in return? If you wanted the moon I would try to make a star. But I would rather you let me give my heart To sir with love..."

Why did I cry? I don't know. I was thankful to the LORD who has blessed me to become a teacher and let me serve students. Well, I am thinking now that I cried because the pizza was so delicious. Students said "Dr. Lee, we are eating the best pizza in town." Yes, that's why I cried.

A couple days later, one student sent e-mail to all students with attachment files: all the pictures we took. In his e-mail, he wrote: "It was a very good event and I hope it will be in everyone's memory for long time..." Another student replied: "... The party was a great way to honor our professor who has touched all of our lives with his knowledge, passion for teaching, his positive encouragement and the way he lives his faith by example..." I cried again. Why? I did not have that delicious pizza in front of me, and that's why!

With this posting, I am bragging. Don't get me wrong, though. I am not bragging about myself. I am bragging about my LORD who has blessed me as a teacher, gave me joy of teaching, and entrusted me this wonderful group of students to serve. I love you, LORD!

Friday, April 18, 2008

My first posting

This is my very first posting to my blog. As I type words, my typing fingers begin to feel a mild level of tension. Nervous? Yes, but it is not a bad nervousness. May I call it "eu-nerverousness"?

I am thinking that this blog should offer me an opportunity for daily or weekly or even monthly reflections of my life and share my stories with others. I have been talking about my life with others, but I have not written any of my thought pieces in papers or Microsoft Word program. Perhaps, this blog may offer me some trails of my thoughts as I am about to make important transitions in my life.

I recently resigned my dream job as an Associate Professor at Indiana University. I earned tenure a few years ago. To tell you the truth, it wasn't an easy thing to earn tenure at Indiana University. You really have to work very hard! However, I also realized the fact that it wasn't very hard to give it up, either.

When you find a new passion, you don't really want to keep old one. They cannot co-exist (at least in my case). I had to put my old passion in the trash in order to follow a new passion. So the transitioins I just mentioned above mean radical changes in my life.

I am compelled to examine myself in this new journey and write some thoughts in this process. One experienced blogger Brian Moffatt offered me some good principles associated with blogging:

"... As a writer, I love sitting down to blog. When I start a post I have no idea where I'm headed. I love that freedom. I do write otherwise. With outlines and plans. Strategies. But blog writing is like going off for a walk with no predetermined finish time or route, sometimes the walk is through the fields, sometimes along the streets... I rarely reread my posts. Hence the tremendous number of typos and grammatical errors. But for me, that's okay. I'm not the most anal person in the world. But it's very much what I look for elsewhere. The flaw. The scar. The fingerprint. The idiosyncratic. The weirded-out turn of phrase. Something close to the hearth where the meat burns in an instant and leaves your face all warm for a bit. I love reading something I've written and thinking 'geez who wrote that?'..."

While I am still in Bloomington, Indiana, and need to give final exams for the students in two graduate courses next week, my stories will begin from here. I am excited! Really!