Saturday, January 9, 2021

Mapping Your Academic Career & Departure Points

I read a couple of reviews on Gary Burge's Mapping Your Academic Career (2015). I used Burge's textbook on New Testament (New Testament in Antiquity) for three years when I was at Trinity Theological College. I could have been an academic myself if I had wanted to. Now on the verge of publishing my fourth book, I reckon my former College would have been proud of my "scholarly contributions." But it was not meant to be. If I had stayed on in my former College or perhaps applied to another College somewhere, my academic career could have advanced. But is it the Lord's will for me? That I could answer with a definitive "no". It may be a career for some in the academia, but certainly not for everyone who holds a doctorate in theology or Biblical Studies. Even my most memorable papers presented at prestigious Universities were done when I was not a lecturer or professor. I spoke at a Conference held at the Peking University in China when I was pastor of my home church, SIB Likas (BM).

When I presented two papers in 2016 at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, I was out of a job. I just moved out of the Ranau's Bible College after serving one Semester as Acting Principal. No wonder, I called my book, Departure Points because I have never stayed in one place longer than 6 years. It's not ideal to develop a career path or map out a career advancement plan when you move from one place to another. I have to stay faithful to God's calling in my life which is to speak the truth like Jesus who confessed before Pontius Pilate - "To this end I was testify to the truth.." (John 18:37). But many people don't speak the truth, or the entire truth because they are worried about their careers. They are afraid to offend people, especially those who can help or hinder their careers. Now we may praise the prophets whom we read regularly in our Bible readings. But most of them had a pitiable life in terms of career advancement. When God's Word takes hold of their souls, they could not do anything but became God's mouthpiece. "If the lion has roared, ...if the Lord God has spoken, who can but prophesy?" (Amos 3:8). If the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will become a new person, a vessel of the Holy Spirit, a vessel for God's Word and Work until the end of time.

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