Monday, November 12, 2012

Out to Lunch

The following post was written by Tim Sawyer, Associate Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Northwestern.

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. (Henry Adams)

What a joy it is to be a Northwestern College faculty member! Some days, I wonder how I could have lasted this long, having "never worked a day in my life!" Over two decades of my life have been spent here, and I am still so young (at least that is what I keep telling myself). What makes me and my faculty colleagues want to drive on campus every day is our students - your children! This NWC student body is a collection of some of the greatest hearts anywhere. It is the hearts of our students that makes spending time with them one of the great joys of being a teacher. Since the core “DNA” of our college is deeply relational, that transaction requires a heart connection – both in and out of the classroom. The work done in the classroom can often be mainly transactional in their heads, but it is those deep relationships that spill over into life beyond the classroom that can become truly transformational in theirs hearts. This is one of the unique perks of a private, Christian college education.

Early in my time at Northwestern, one of our graduates whom I hardly knew told me (over an inadvertent lunch) that during his four years as a student here, not one faculty member had ever taken a personal interest in him outside of the classroom. This was a stunning revelation, and when I pressed him further to tell me why this might have been, he said: “I guess they were all so busy teaching that they had no time to notice me.” Hearing him say this deeply grieved me. From that day forward, I decided to do what I could to change that. Since I am conductor of the NWC men’s chorus and college choir (a mixed choir half comprised of men) and also the vocal coach for the Eagle Football team, I have the privilege of investing in a lot of our NWC men, one-on-one. I love engaging in what I like to call "the ministry of lunch" when we can get some one-on-one time at Famous Dave’s or Grumpy’s or some other guy-friendly restaurant. There, in a safe place away from campus, I get the chance to hear their stories and to listen to their hearts and learn about their spiritual journey. Sometimes that's just what they need - - to talk freely, to be heard, be affirmed for who they are, and for who they are becoming.

I am happy to assure you that I am not the only faculty or staff member who does this; many other do the same – in their way and on their terms. It’s one of the best things about NWC, but often not widely known. As parents, you can be sure that we are not just interested in the academic or intellectual life of your children; we also care about their souls, their hearts and finding ways to help them develop fully into all that God wants for them to be, for His glory. Thank you for entrusting us with them.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Philanthropy – Being a Hilarious Giver

The following post was written by Brian Molohon, Senior Director of Development at Northwestern.

Webster defines hilarious as being marked by or providing boisterous merriment.  Hilarity is something more than just a causal chuckle at a friend’s joke or the contrived sound of the laughter when the studio technician holds up the “laugh now” sign during a TV sitcom taping.  Hilarity is something much deeper and I would argue deeply personal and Spiritual.

A belly busting laugh that makes you cry as you struggle to catch your breath is something truly special.  It is a deep connection with the core of who you are and what you believe.  The tears of joy and the rolling on the floor laughter can only come when you connect with something so deep and defining within you that then in turn reflects who God made you to be.

The scene from the movie Sandlot where Squints (awkward pre-teen boy) pretends to drown just to get rescued by the lifeguard (very cute mid-teen girl) always makes me laugh till I cry.  Yes, the scene is funny for some wonderful cinematic reasons, but much deeper than that is how the scene connects with my own awkward teenage years, my own first crushes and simply my own life’s journey.   

2 Corinthians 9:7 states, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  It is sad that for many Christians, giving of our financial treasure is anything but cheerful and joyful; yet, this is what God calls us to.  Why is our relationship to money so challenging and stressful – I would offer one reason for you to consider.

One – We have not relinquished ownership (even though it wasn’t ours to begin with) of our financial resources.  Here is the bottom line question:  Do you REALLY trust Jesus and His word?  If we have a hard time giving; I would suggest it is because of fear and that we have not fully tasted the freedom that comes from a life fully submitted to Jesus Christ.   God’s word is clear, He will provide for His children, He knows best what we need, He loves us more than we can comprehend AND He is completely trustworthy.  There is no negotiation on these points – either you believe it or you don’t!  So, if you believe it – then begin today to live it!

I know this can be scary uncharted territory for many of us, so, let me offer some practical ways to begin to practice a life of joyful and hilarious giving.  

  • Be in God’s word every day.  Read it, pray it and obey it.  Submit all of your blessings back to God every day.  Ask for the Spirits leading in all of your giving. 
  • Practice spontaneous philanthropy, i.e. take a twenty dollar bill and ask God to bring you somebody during your day who needs it more than you (He will set a divine appointment for you if you ask).  Give the person the money with no strings attached; listen to their story and pray with them. 
  • Don’t let your lifestyle rise with your income.  If you get a raise, give away more.  Make a legitimate sacrifice for another person.
  • Make your giving personal.  Get involved in church and ministries.  Volunteer your time with giving your money.  Be truly present to people and their stories.

There are certainly more things that you can do to start to become a hilariously joyful giver.  A lack of joy in giving is truly no laughing matter; however, you can start practicing today.  Surrender it all to Him and you will begin to experience the deep hilariously joyful feeling of what it means to be a cheerful giver.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Got Growth?

The following post was written by Joy Ostrom, a 1986 gradudate of Northwestern, mother of two current NWC students, and leader of our Moms In Prayer group.

As parents of college students, we have come a long way from buying glue and crayons for our children. Instead it is XL twin sheets, computers and much more. The milestone of college is such a bittersweet time as a parent. We are relinquishing more trust and control over to our students, desiring to witness growth in all areas in their life. As parents we are also experiencing our own sense of change. So many past memories, new beginnings and many unknowns can make for an anxious transition. 

I believe a strong remedy to this anxiety is purposeful and powerful prayer. 

At  Northwestern College, prayer is a daily component woven into the fabric of serving students on the college level. Earlier this year I had a conversation with a woman who handles housing assignments. When I made a request for a room change for my son,  her response was that she and her co-workers take these requests seriously and pray over each of the students, asking for help from the Lord to come up with a good combination. I told her we had been praying about it too and that over the school year we pray for each of the departments on campus— including hers. Just knowing the connection of purposeful prayer, from a concerned employee and a parent praying about the same thing, reassured trust and belief that whatever the outcome, it would be providentially provided for. The interaction strengthened my faith in the Lord. 

The Parent Relations team has been such a great encouragement and supporter of Moms in Prayer, known internationally and in many schools all over the nation. Over the past few years, the group of mothers who gather bi-weekly to purposefully and powerfully pray— for their students, for students they do not know, and for the college—has grown infectiously. Praying Scripture has trained us to trust what God says; we can believe it for us, for our students and for our college. 

Northwestern has Moms in Prayer groups that meet on or near campus twice a month and a group that meets via telephone conference for those who do not live close. Check out the Parents Resource button at, where you can find the details. Consider this an invitation! Growth through trusting God’s Word is ultimately what we as parents want and also what we desire in our students. There is no better way to start out the year by joining the Moms in Prayer group at Northwestern College or by committing to the real and lasting growth that comes by trusting the Lord when those anxious parent moments come. 

“What do I lose when I have a praying life? Control. Independence. What do I gain? Friendship with God. A quiet heart. The living work of God in the hearts of those I love. The ability to roll back the tide of evil. Essentially I lose my kingdom and get His. I move from being an independent player to a dependent lover. I move from being an orphan to a child of God.” Paul E. Miller, The Praying Life.