Flaky Mind, Undivided Heart (Scholar’s Compass)

heart photo“’Love the Lord your god with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” —Mark 12:30


Many of us academics invest an inordinate amount of time organizing and goal-setting in order to achieve certain objectives and earn favorable evaluations from students and supervisors. We want to earn positive labels and avoid negative descriptions like “flaky.” What does “flaky” imply anyway? It conjures images of an unreliable person who cannot be trusted with important tasks regardless of his or her talent. Maybe we have heard students or other colleagues describe a person as brilliant but “flaky,” a label which renders the first description ineffective.

As a graduate student, I was taught that a faculty member’s great task is to effectively divide his or her time between the three primal areas of scholarship, teaching, and service. Faculty members who are out of balance in one of these areas are ultimately unproductive and untrustworthy in the others, and the pull among these three elements never ceases. Yet the reality is that life consists of far more than academia, and during certain seasons, any number of obligations in our family, church, or community-at-large rightfully require more attention than our job. Despite our best efforts, we may find ourselves growing “flaky” in one arena of work, because flourishing in every sector of our lives has become an impossible task.

The word “flaky” might be a positive description for pastries, an indication that all is as it should be, but the word implies continual loss when it is used to describe people. “Flaky” people forget, “drop the ball,” leave behind personal belongings, or fail to complete tasks. Academics make their living and earn their reputation with their sharp minds. What can a multi-tasking person do when life refuses to be seamless? How do we cope when life feels so fragmented?

A flaky mind needs an undivided heart and a singular purpose: to love Christ with the totality of our being. Jesus Himself promised that when we seek His kingdom and His righteousness first, everything else, all our necessities and tasks, will “be added unto you.” The undivided heart that is devoted to Christ allows Him to order our days and orient our priorities. This devotion, though, is far more than an organizational strategy. It is a dwelling place where our to-do lists and our goals are not only ordered, but our burdens are carried. Somehow, in a way that is beyond even the academic’s understanding, our divided thoughts are brought together, and our souls are made whole.


  1. How divided do you feel during this season? Why?
  2. What spiritual disciplines could you practice to help point you back to Christ throughout the week?


Father, when roles, duties, and even goals distract us, point us back to You. Let us hold unswervingly to Your love and follow You with an undivided heart.

Image courtesy of cafepampas at Pixabay.com

Scholars-Compass-image-40x40Note: Part of the Scholar’s Compass series.

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Kristie Niemeier

Kristie Niemeier is an Assistant Professor of Language at Union University where she teaches all levels of Spanish. She holds a PhD from the University of Kentucky. Kristie’s research interests include eighteenth-century theater in Spain, dueling in literature, service-learning, and missions.

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