Taking this new position has been a bit of a career head trip for me. For the last 3.5 years, I've been in a rigorous PhD program that has been preparing me for an eventual academic position, preferably (according to my profs) within a university that ranks in the top 10 in the nation. Wash U breeds us, molds us, and then markets us. In fact, I spent most of last week in Washington DC at a social work research conference where much of this marketing occurs. My esteemed colleagues are all on their way to amazing academic careers, which come with a host of interesting behaviors displayed by both the marketed and the marketees. It has been an interesting experience to be an outside observer of these dynamics, and surprisingly, I got to feeling a bit sullen about being on the periphery of these exchanges until I had an insightful talk with a colleague.
I have been viewing this job decision as an either/or scenario, where I can EITHER be an academic/researcher/instructor OR an activist/practitioner/missionary. But this recent conversation opened my eyes to the fact that this way of thinking is limited and also, patently untrue. In actuality, this is perhaps the best both/and job scenario that I could imagine. I am BOTH an academic/researcher/instructor AND an activist/practitioner/missionary. As I strive to be a good steward of what God has given me, it is with grateful humility that I realize the invaluable skills, knowledge, and experience that I have acquired over the years throughout my education and social work practice. These all need to be utilized to the fullest, and because this knowledge and experience are so varied, I absolutely must think outside of the box in terms of career decisions in order to utilize them all. The Mozambique Initiative Coordinator position is vast - I have endless opportunities to gather data, write, teach, work with universities both here in the US and in Africa, AND I have endless opportunities to get my hands dirty, work with people, attempt to make a real-world, practical difference, travel, and be intimately connected to a spiritual community. And so, I'm going to continue to build bridges and have my feet in both worlds. Why not do both? Why not double the impact? Why not be a pioneer? I'm not closing any doors, in fact, I'm swinging them all wide open in ways that I probably cannot even fully comprehend.
...but just as it is written, “things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.”