I am currently a professor at a Christian college affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Last week I attended a local workshop under the broad subject of teaching and advising. The speaker (name supplied on request) spoke about vocation. Vocation, at least in Lutheran circles, deals with a calling into service. This service could be in the secular world.
As I recall it, she said that students struggle with how they relate to, and implement, the concept of vocation. This makes sense, as students 18-22 have difficulty in choosing a major, let alone a post-graduation career path. She also said that some students might find it helpful if professors were to share how they became academics.
So, today, I share how I became a professor. Make what use of it as you will.
I was not a Christian as a young adult. The concept of a calling was irrelevant to me. Had I been aware of it, undoubtedly I would have rebelled against the idea.
So it was during my undergrad days at a major midwestern state university. Although there were classes in string bass performance, Spanish, chemistry, fiction writing, history and political science, my true interests were cards, beer drinking, foosball and girls. I wracked up an unenviable academic record that included eleven grades of F and five grades of D, but never-the-less I graduated. Then so it was for two years as I worked full time at a post office. Working during the day financed my evening pursuits.
Then one evening I became a Christian, and subsequently was baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. A baby Christian, my life was being changed. One of the many changes was the absurd idea that I should go back to school and get a masters degree in business. Nothing in my life to date would indicate that I was suitable material for graduate school. Yet, it seemed to be the thing I should do. After taking some business prerequisite classes, the GMAT and GRE, I was admitted to a Master of Arts in Accounting program at that fine major midwestern state university. I was even awarded two years of assistantship.
My foray into business classes and a masters degree took three years. Along the way, I twice taught a course in Managerial Accounting. In May, 1980, I graduated. Exhausted from my studies and without a job, I traveled to a Seventh-day Adventist university in Michigan to rest and recuperate with a friend who had recently taken a position there. The only clothes taken were t-shirts and stringy cutoffs. There was no need for fancier clothes because t-shirts and cutoffs work great for chilling out. And these were perfect cutoffs. The cut was very frayed and they were so short the front pockets were visible down below the cut line.
I arrived there on a Friday. By Monday, I was restless and wanted to get out. So I drove over to campus, and entered the School of Business just to check it out. After glancing through some recruiting pamphlets, a thirtyish man came out of his office and started chatting with me. After a few minutes, it seemed as I was being interviewed for a job. I asked him about that. Speaking now as the Dean of the School of Business, he explained that late on Friday afternoon one of his accounting teachers had resigned for the next school year. Too late in the year to recruit anyone through standard channels, he spent much of the weekend praying for a solution. And bright and early on Monday morning I came walking in the front door. I had the right degree and teaching experience. I was his answer to prayer. Wearing nothing but cutoffs and a t-shirt, I spent all day Monday and Tuesday being interviewed by university officials wearing suits.
Somewhere during the interview process I was offered the teaching position, and I said yes. Not everyone can say they were called by God into university teaching. But I can. It is my true calling. The current school year (2010-2011) is my 32nd in the collegiate classroom.
- – by David Albrecht