Summer Snapshot: A Historian in Graduate School

Photo: Field Near Gettysburg


Welcome to our new summer series! In June to August of 2016, ESN will be sharing “snapshots” from members of our network, brief reflections on one way the author is making the most of summer or learning something from God in this season. That could be a mode of rest/recreation, a way someone is growing in research, a new conference or collaboration opportunity, a challenge someone is growing through, a new event to celebrate, a way God is working in someone’s family, or something else. History graduate student Josh Shiver kicks off our series today, and we’d love to hear from others in the network. 


Going into the Summer of 2016, I expected to be working my regular low-pressure desk job back home. Instead, God had other plans. I was offered a job teaching a senior level class on the Civil War and Reconstruction (my area of specialty) at my university as well as second job writing and editing for a digital encyclopedia. After a few particularly challenging semesters as a TA, I was determined to take a break from academia to go home and rest and replenish both my mind and my ever-withering bank account.

Well, God had other plans. He always does. He wasn’t about to let me escape from my calling and gifting. I have known now for years that my spiritual gifts are in teaching and shepherding and in the past I firmly believed that this meant that I would one day become a pastor. Then God sent me to work on my PhD and to teach. Now I didn’t want to. In the end, after much weeping and gnashing of teeth, I took the temporary teaching job as well as the writing and editing position.

We are now halfway through the semester. I have never felt more alive at any job that I have ever worked in my thirty years of existence. I am right in the center of God’s calling and I feel His pleasure in my work. Furthermore, my students are learning and engaged and their enthusiasm has helped to rekindle my own. Looking back, I cannot believe that I was so ready and willing to pass up this incredible opportunity to fulfill God’s gifting and calling for His Kingdom expansion because I wanted to sit at a desk and soak in comfort.

Whatever hard things God has called you to do, rest assured that He will sustain you and that you will feel infinitely more joy in obedience than in comfort. I know that I certainly have. The best part? The summer, and my journey, isn’t even over.

Prayer Request: That I would lay this class down at God’s feet and submit to His will for myself and my students, that I would be humble and serve my students, and that God would awaken their hearts in Him.

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Joshua Shiver

Josh Shiver is a graduate student in American history at Auburn University. He has a B.A. in history from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and an M.A. in history from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Josh's research interests include the American Civil War, the American Revolution, and the Korean War. His current research looks at the role of relationships on soldier motivations during the Civil War.

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