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.

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