Whether you just started graduate school or are almost finished, our weekly fall readings are designed to help you journey forward with a strong sense of calling to God’s work in the university. Read and discuss with a small group, or reflect on your own. Readings engage the big theme of calling and vocation in our academic lives, and some practical ways to live that out as graduate students. You can bookmark this page to access the whole series, or follow along with us on social media as we share the week’s reading from September 10 through January 6 (usually we’ll share these social media posts on Mondays). Note on international academic schedules: If you’re one of our many international readers, we’re thrilled you’re here—we know you may be in a different season of the academic year, and we think these posts will be encouraging any time.
The readings vary in format, with some in our Scholar’s Compass devotional format, and others written as letters of encouragement. They are all designed to invite you into prayer and reflection, and many have questions or exercises to help apply the ideas in the readings to individual experience in practical ways. Note: Each module can stand on its own, and several are customizable in length to allow for different semester lengths. —Hannah Eagleson, ESN Assistant Director
Module 1: Starting the Journey of Vocation This Fall: Letters to Graduate Students (3 weeks)
Start off the fall semester with letters to encourage you, from a fellow grad student, a new professor, and a campus minister. We hope these readings help you start this fall’s journey with joy and hope for the calling God has given you in the university, and the story He’s inviting you toward.
Week 2: Letter to a New Graduate Student, by Monica Greenwood
Week 3: Letter to Myself, Starting Graduate School, by Ryan Wilkinson
Module 2: Following God’s Calling in the University (3 weeks)
Lauri Swann’s classic Scholar’s Compass series on the calling of Abraham helps us dive deeper into what it means to hear God’s call and follow Him.
Week 1: Unchartered Territories: Hearing God’s Voice (Scholar’s Compass), by Lauri Swann
Week 2: Unchartered Territories: Obedience (Scholar’s Compass), by Lauri Swann
Week 3: Unchartered Territories: Faith (Scholar’s Compass), by Lauri Swann
Module 3: Journeying Forward: Vocation in Everyday Work & Life (6 weeks, adjustable)
Christ calls us to follow Him in all of our daily work. He cares about all our work on campus, and all our work in daily life. We planned this unit for that intense moment of the fall semester when paper deadlines, grading deadlines, and holidays all begin to crowd together. We hope it gives you a sense of joy and purpose as you follow Christ in the everyday details of your academic vocation, and in the work of preparing hearts and households for holiday celebrations and hospitality.
Note: We’re proud of our authors at ESN, and we hope you have time to read all of these reflections. If your small group is working with a short semester or a complicated calendar, though, you could customize the length and order of this module since each post can stand on its own (although the posts by Anna Gissing were originally designed as a series, as were the ones by Monica Greenwood).
Week 1: Grading as a Spiritual Practice (Scholar’s Compass), by Anna Gissing
Week 2: On Submitting Academic Work (Scholar’s Compass), by Anna Gissing (Note: Originally written for the beginning of summer, this post is evergreen.)
Week 3: Academic Conferences and Spiritual Practice (Scholar’s Compass), by Anna Gissing
Week 4: Dear (No Longer) New Graduate Student, by Monica Greenwood
Week 5: Gratefulness and the (No Longer) New Graduate Student, by Monica Greenwood
Week 6: Thanksgiving for Domestic Hospitality (Scholar’s Compass), by Brandon Spun
Module 4: Walking with God in Advent and Christmas (6 weeks, adjustable)
As the semester wraps up in December and we move into celebrating Advent and the season of Christmas, we offer weekly reflections from the first week of Advent through Epiphany. Enjoy a thoughtful Advent series by creative writing professor Joy Moore, a New Year’s Day reflection by Alexis Grant, and a devotional for Epiphany by Mark Hansard.
Note: We’re proud of our authors at ESN, and we hope you have time to read all of these reflections. If your small group is taking some time off over the holidays, though, you could customize the length and order of this module since the New Year’s and Epiphany reflections are standalone posts.
Week 1: First Week of Advent: The Word (Scholar’s Compass), Series by Joy Moore
Week 2: Second Week of Advent: Hope (Scholar’s Compass), Series by Joy Moore
Week 3: Third Week of Advent: The Incarnation (Scholar’s Compass), Series by Joy Moore
Week 4: Fourth Week of Advent: The Coming King (Scholar’s Compass), Series by Joy Moore
Week 5: New Year’s Day: Starting with the Kingdom in Mind (Scholar’s Compass), by Alexis Grant
Week 6: Epiphany: Preparing for Epiphany (Scholar’s Compass), by Mark Hansard