New Series: Scholar’s Compass Interacts with Faithful Is Successful

Faithful Is Successful Cover“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship” – Romans 12:1, also quoted as epigraph to the introduction of Faithful is Successful.


What does it mean to be successful as an emerging scholar? Early tenure? Prestigious publications? Great course evaluations? Finding a position in higher education after you graduate? Just finishing grad school (it feels that way some days)?

This question is deeply relevant to ESN members, and we’ll be exploring it with a new series of Scholar’s Compass entries. During the spring semester, one Scholar’s Compass post a week will interact with a new book called Faithful Is Successful: Notes to the Driven Pilgrim. Featuring a series of essays on the topic of faith and vocation, the book is written and edited by a community of Christian scholars and professionals. In our Tuesday posts, we’ll work our way through the chapters, asking someone from our own community of ESN writers to respond to each one. Today, I introduce the four themes that turned out to be central for the authors of Faithful Is Successful, and invite our readers to ponder the overall questions raised by the Introduction and front matter. Next Tuesday, we’ll dive into the first essay with a thoughtful post by Paul Yandle on Bryan McGraw’s “Seeing What’s Around: Vision and Vocation.”

Editors Nathan Grills, David E. Lewis, and Josh Swamidass reflect on what it means to integrate faith and vocation in their introduction to the book. As they received essays from the various contributors, one major theme emerged: “Being faithful is being successful” (5). Throughout the book, writers reflect on how serving Christ faithfully is the center of being successful as a Christian scholar or professional. Whether the writers ended up at the university of their dreams or in a job they never expected, whether they wrote about a moment of spectacular career opportunity or a moment of apparent career disaster, what kept coming to the fore in the book was the theme that faithfulness to God is in itself success.

The editors also mention three subthemes that emerged. The book is divided into sections along these three themes, each section starting with a question:

  1. The Mystery of Calling: To what has God called us and how can we know?
  2. Success and Ambition: For what should we be striving and what should drive us?
  3. God in the Work: How can faith and work be integrated to make a difference?

Today, I invite you to reflect on how these questions work out in your own experience of being an emerging scholar. We very much want this series to be an interactive and community-building experience, so feel free to share your answers with us in the comments. We also welcome emails from ESN readers wanting to write about a chapter of Faithful Is Successful.


From Faithful Is Successful Section Headings, Table of Contents

  1. To what has God called us and how can we know?
  2. For what should we be striving and what should drive us?
  3. How can faith and work be integrated to make a difference?


Lord, as we meditate on our vocations as emerging scholars, we pray that faithfulness would be the thing we seek after, that You Yourself would be the thing we most desire. We pray that You would guide us in our careers to Your service and to care for others, whether that means tenure track or adjunct work, writing a first graduate paper or celebrating a first book, giving keynote addresses or praying for one student. Guide us in Your paths, and thank You for leading us into the chance to study and teach.

Further Reading

Nathan Grills, David E. Lewis, and S. Joshua Swamidass, eds. Faithful is Successful: Notes to the Driven Pilgrim. Denver, Colorado: Outskirts Press, 2014.

Nathan Matias, “Gradschool for God’s Global Mission: S Josh Swamidass,” notes from Urbana 2012 Presentation. Emerging Scholars Network Blog. 31 December 2012.

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Hannah Eagleson

Hannah Eagleson is Interim Associate Director of InterVarsity’s Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). She launched and still edits ESN's collaboratively written devotional for academics, Scholar's Compass. Hannah also crafts other community-building events and materials for ESN. She holds a PhD in English literature from the University of Delaware, and an MA from St. John's College in Annapolis, MD. she’s working on a novel about a dragon who gave up fending off knights to become a tea importer in eighteenth-century England.

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