Discovery, Reflection & Vocation
(Discovery, Reflection & Vocation drives our students’ learning and success where success is marked at graduation by critical thinking, effective communication, information literacy, intellectual curiosity and employment or graduate school entry within six months. This shared discovery of learning is rooted in strong liberal arts principles. It shapes Bethany’s first-year experience and core curriculum as well as deep learning in the disciplinary knowledge and skills of our academic majors. It prepares our graduates for a successful life and career of consequence because they have discovered their passion and are able to reflect, "So, what does this mean?" and to discern, "Now, what path will I take?")
At Bethany, we believe one of the gifts of Lutheran higher education is the gift of vocation. Lutherans believe vocation is not reserved just for those called to the ordained ministry. Rather, Lutherans believe all of us are called, even the butcher, baker, and candlestick maker. Another gift of Lutheran higher education is the gift of reflection, or as any Lutheran confirmand can recite, "What does this mean?" As Bethany reclaims its identity as a Lutheran college, we are articulating and animating that Lutheran identity through our missional direction of discovery, reflection, and vocation.
Beginning at the end with vocation - and working backwards from discovery through reflection - my definition of vocation - inspired by the Reverend Frederick Buechner's definition - is the path God calls me where my deep gifts serve my neighbors' deep need. I think this nicely sets the stage for discovering and reflecting on who am I, where am I from, and where am I headed. These broad discovery questions and my reflection on answering them helps me hear God's call and the gifts, talents, and strengths God has given me. These are the first two fundamental parts of finding my path and my vocation.
Who Am I? (The Discovery Process begins with Self-Discovery and that begins by answering, "Who Am I?" By exploring what are my talents, spiritual gifts, personality, strengths, and passions. These combine to form the constellation of who I am or define my personal guiding principles.)
My Talents are ... (Based on John Holland's theory of vocational choices.)
Enterprising - would rather lead than follow ... give a talk than write a report ... am ambitious, optimistic, talkative, energetic
Social - would rather work with a group than work alone ... make a friend than read a book ... am friendly and cheerful
My Spiritual Gifts are ... (Based on LifeKeys: Discover Who You Are by Jane A. G. Kise, David Stark, and Sandra Krebs Hirsh.)
Leadership - the ability to motivate, coordinate, and direct others in doing God's work
Faith - the ability to recognize what God wants accomplished - a strong belief that God will see it done no matter how big the barriers
Giving - the ability to give of material possessions freely and happily to assist people and further God's causes
My Personality preferences are ENFJ. (Based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.)
energized by being with other people .. outgoing ... outer energy ... invite others iniNtuitor -
innovative and insightful ... creative ... focus on the big picture ... see future possibilities ... inspiringFeeler -
harmonious and personal ... empathetic ... friendship first ... subjective ... decide with heart ... find the positive
Judger - organized and efficient ... planning ... work before play ... systematic ... scheduled ... enjoy finishing
My Strengths are ... (Based on the StrengthsFinder/StrengthsQuest instrument.)
Maximizer - seeks to transform something strong into something even better ... believes good is the enemy of great
Strategic - creates alternative ways to proceed ... plans the work
Focus - prioritizes, then acts ... works the plan
Includer - stretches the circle wider
Input - collects and archives all kinds of information
My Personal Guiding Principles are ...
My life's purpose is - first to seek and serve Christ in all persons - then to make better those individuals and organizations who my life touches.
Vision: Reach the summit
1. "For where your treasure is, so too is your heart also." (Matthew 6:21)
2. "If you don't do it excellently, don't do it at all." (Robert Townsend, Up The Organization)
3. Put first things first, but don't confuse activity with accomplishment.
4. "Ready, Fire, Aim." (Peters & Waterman, In Search of Excellence)
5. Under promise, Over deliver.
Where Am I From? (The next step in the Self-Discovery Process is to reflect on Where Am I From so that I can begin to make meaning about where I am headed. This is intentionally directional and not a destination.)
Having the talent of Enterprising means I might like work that is goal oriented, where success can be measured, interact with others, lead my own endeavors, and spend some time in the limelight.
Having the talent of Social means I might like work where I can serve others in environments that emphasize cooperation and gravitate toward organizations that help people (like colleges).
Where Am I Headed? (The final step in the Self-Discovery Process is to discern my call - or vocation - so that I can begin to answer, "What path will I take?" The focus is on my direction in life and not my final destination.)
Early in my professional life, following college, I spent four years working in corporate America for a St. Louis-based, family-owned company. During my four years with the company, revenues doubled from $250 million to $500 million. As I reflected on the work I was doing for the company - Training Supervisor (human resources development) and Performance Management Officer - I began to question what difference I was making. In that large of an organization, I concluded little if any.
At this point I moved into higher education, specifically the faith-based, liberal arts college. As a liberal arts college graduate - who majored in philosophy, then went on to earn an MBA and later a PhD in educational leadership - I knew that's where I belonged. I also knew after six years in public higher education I belonged in a values-based or faith-based college environment.
I knew that I could make a difference and eventually discerned a call to be a college president. Aligned with my personal guiding principles, I followed the path to a presidency which took me to stops as director of alumni programs, director of alumni affairs, director of development, and vice president for college advancement - along with numerous adjunct teaching opportunities along the way.