God created people in his image to love him and each other. As Martin Luther said, work is a way to love our neighbor according to God’s providential plan. A Kuyperian view on our historic Christian faith would claim that human flourishing is intimately connected with faith in and action under the Lordship of Christ. It would also claim that but for the restraining power of Common Grace and the redeeming power of Special Grace in Christ, no human would or could flourish.
As educators, then, it is our business to help students discover, develop, and use their gifts by co-creating work experiences that matter so that they — uniquely gifted people — contribute to the well-being of others to the glory of God.
There is a word for this: shalom. Our goal is to help students experience wholeness.
Not surprisingly, recent studies have shown that there is a connection between flourishing and engagement in a career, and engagement in a career and what happens in college. In fact, according to a recent Gallup/Purdue study, we are 4.6x more likely to thrive in well-being if we are engaged at work. The right college experiences and relationships have a lot to do with this.
For example, the likelihood of people being engaged at work is:
- 2.6x higher if their college prepared them for life after college
- 2.4x higher if their college was passionate about the long-term success of its students
- 2.0x higher if their college had at least one professor who got them excited about learning
- 2.0x higher if they had an internship or job that gave them the opportunity to apply what they were learning outside of the classroom
- 1.9x higher if their professors cared about them as people
- 1.8x higher if students worked on a project that took a semester or more to complete
- 1.4x higher if students were extremely involved in extra-curricular activities and organizations while in college.
Our vision is that all people will flourish.
We can make experiencing long-term well-being more likely if we increase the likelihood students will be engaged in a career according to God’s calling on their lives. We can make that like likely by engaging students in college in experiences that matter.
God created us to work and prepared for us in advance good work to do. He has wired us with talents and provided us with opportunities. According to Parker Palmer, we must let our lives speak. We must learn to listen through action learning. As James Sullivan writes, the will of the designer is seen in the design. Coaches and mentors, working on projects with students, can help students see that design.
What does that have to do with faithful leadership?
- Leadership is much more than a position; we are all leaders when we influence others according to our unique gifts
- The foundation of leadership is knowing oneself and knowing who we follow
- The foundation of faithful leadership is knowing oneself in relation to God and, thus, following the example of Christ
- We can better know ourselves and God through action learning with coaches and mentors
Max DePree notes that leadership can’t be learned from textbooks. Thus we don’t take a content-oriented approach to teach leadership in the classroom. Rather, we strive to help students discover their gifts and launch them by co-creating work experiences that matter.
To learn more about CFL, click here.
Outputs (Aspirational Behaviors): What is produced by the experiences created by our programs (adapted from Robert Quinn’s Building the Bridge As You Walk Across It)
- Adaptive Confidence — “adaptable and flexible while being confident and secure,” willing to enter uncertain situations with confidence because of a higher purpose Note: confidence is based on self-esteem, which comes from self-management, achievement, and growth
- Appreciative Inquiry — “optimistic and constructive while also being realistic and questioning,” seeing the good and the possible in others and leading with questions
- Authentic Engagement — “principled and ethical while involved and engaged,” being in the world — devoted — but with a sense of calling and purpose
- Detached Interdependence — combining independence and strength with humility and openness,” becoming both effective team members and change agents
- Grounded Vision — “grounded and factual while also hopeful and visionary,” having a kingdom vision grounded in pragmatism
- Reflective Action — being “deeply engaged in the world” and learning from it
- Tough Love — holding themselves and others accountable while also showing empathetic support
To God be the glory!
Co-creating work experiences. That matter.41 Graves Place, VanZoeren Hall 182