Last week, I offered my review of James Davison Hunter’s important book, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World. A central idea of Hunter’s is that Christians ought to be a “faithful presence” in their community of faith, their tasks, and their spheres of influence.
Today, I want to focus on the second of those items: our tasks. I think there’s a parallel between one of the mistakes people make in inductive Bible study – seeking to jump too quickly to application – and a mistake we sometimes make when talking about being Christians on campus – jumping too quickly to “big deals” without spending enough time on less public activities. Andy Crouch would say this is trying to create before we know how to cultivate.
So, my question: how do we practice a faithful presence in our tasks as students and faculty: research, writing, teaching, service, campus life? Do you have any examples of people doing this well or ideas on how it might be done well?
One caveat I’ll put out there: faculty and students are often under great pressure to excel, produce, work harder/longer, etc. Though faithful presence involves a certain degree of excellence, we must not make an idol of our academic careers.