Below is the final piece of a 4-part series by an anonymous contributor, a recent PhD recipient who has been involved with ESN and wanted to share lessons he learned during graduate school. In the fall he will begin teaching at a private Christian university. Praise God!
Click here to read Part 1, click here to read Part 2, and click here to read Part 3 — be sure to check out the helpful conversation in the comment section on 9. Don’t be afraid to be known as a fanatical Christ-follower. ~ Tom
“Finishing-up” and “Moving-on-to-the-next-job”
12. Pray for the next assignment
In times of transition, I have found it helpful to pray for the next assignment (especially the people with whom I will work). This helps me to avoid getting burdened by sorrow about the friends I’m leaving behind, and reminds me that this entire earthly life is only a temporary sojourning from place to place until I go to my Real Home (Hebrews 11:8-16). As Hebrews 13:14 says, “For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.” This also reminds me, as I prepare to meet my new set of coworkers and friends, that my role is to serve them, agape-love them, pray for them, and point them toward Christ. . . . NOT to try to extract personal satisfaction or fulfillment from them.
13. Beware of success:
As I am currently experiencing research and publication success and having many friends congratulate me on finishing my PhD and becoming faculty, I am noticing the danger of drifting away from God, with a subtly proud, “I can do this” (in my own strength) attitude, forgetting all the times of asking God for help in my grad research. I recall Joshua, having just conquered Jericho and Ai, figuring he did not need to ask for God’s counsel in making a treaty with the Gibeonites (Josh 9:14), only afterwards realizing his mistake. Or David, after successfully conquering multiple armies by God’s help, “taking a break” militarily and also spiritually, promptly falling into sin with Bathsheba (2 Sam 11:1). I’m seeking to daily combat the spiritual dangers of success by intentionally remembering all of God’s past help, intentionally thanking Him again for it, intentionally mentioning it to others, and intentionally asking God to continue to help me and to keep me close to Him.
BONUS (i.e., let’s make that 14 ways): Connect to the local church
I’ve found that it is extremely spiritually healthy to integrate into (at least one) local church. This allows one to gain perspective on one’s own problems, by talking with other people of different vocations and ages and praying with them about their (often much bigger) problems. Also too, scriptural messages and music and the prayers of others can spiritually lift one up when down. I have found it to be healthy to be not merely receiving spiritual input (which could also come from internet/radio/etc), but also giving spiritual input to other people. Modifying JFK’s phrase, I have learned to ask what I can do to help the local body of Christ, not simply to ask how they can help me.