Our theme for this year is A Higher Purpose in Higher Education. In pondering this theme, I was reminded of the following verse from 1 Corinthians 15:58 (AMP):
Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord [always doing your best and doing more than is needed], being continually aware that your labor [even to the point of exhaustion] in the Lord is not futile nor wasted [it is never without purpose].
Be encouraged that our work “is not futile nor wasted … never without purpose.” Pursuing a higher purpose demands excellence, commitment, and integrity. It is holding on to that purpose regardless of how hard it may be or how insignificant it may seem.
I have certainly had opportunity to observe you, our adjuncts, choosing to follow a higher purpose. Here are just a few examples from the past month:
- Recently one of our instructors gave a Bible to everyone in his Associate-level business course. A few weeks later as I taught several from his course, I heard the story. The students were still talking about how difficult the finance course content was but how much they appreciated the instructor and that he had even given each one of them a Bible. One student had never taken a Bible to church, but since receiving this one, did so regularly. Another student used her Bible in her AGS class each week. Capturing a higher purpose is grasping hold of the opportunity to change lives while not lowering the bar in regard to academics.
- Last week an instructor stopped by to visit specifically about expectations for grad-level work. In discussing his challenge, it became clear that instructors hold students to different standards and the standard he had set was higher than that of most other adjuncts. The students used the all-too familiar line: “you’re the only one who marks APA,” or “I’ve always received an A.” This instructor is focused on helping students deliver research and insight in the best way possible and be ready to continue to a doctoral program if they desire. As the instructor, it is hard to be perceived as the only one holding students accountable. However, is being well-liked by the students greater priority than pursuing a higher purpose? A former administrator for whom I worked phrased it like this: we as instructors are willing to sacrifice our present comfort for the sake of the students’ future.
- One of our online nursing students recently entered a dark, difficult season in her life involving the death of her husband and severe physical and emotional trauma to herself. Her instructor was definitely God-placed “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14, NKJV). He has maintained close contact with the student offering encouragement and graciousness even making himself available to travel across state to visit with the student in person. He has become a lifeline for the student, “Christ’s hands and heart … [touching] the world one person, family … at a time” exemplifying the mission of the School of Nursing (catalog, 2016-17, p. 80).
Each of you has been placed by God “for such a time as this” to impact the lives of others. Our students do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. Thank you for following God’s higher purpose, for esteeming that purpose a greater calling than being popular.
I’ve shared a few examples of where I have seen adjuncts following a higher purpose. I welcome hearing from you how you have pursued a higher purpose in your teaching.
Oklahoma Wesleyan University Undergraduate Catalog. (2016-2017). Retrieved from www.okwu.edu/registrar/