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August 09, 2010
Transitions and New Beginnings
Here we are again. It’s the month of August—that transition month. By this point in the year, those summer plans have given way to summer vacation memories of adventure trips and special times with family.
There is a time for everything…
Earlier in the year, as we approached the summer months of June and July, we thought of all the things we had stored up to do “when we would have more time” like—reading that novel, going to a family reunion, spending time alone on the beach while enjoying a sunrise or sunset and just having fun.
Now here we are in the month of August—that time of transition that calls us to accountability as we prepare for the next new season in the calendar year.
And a season for every activity under heaven…
Staffs of educational institutions, churches, volunteer agencies, and nonprofit organizations like The Fund for Theological Education (FTE) are now engaged in planning and transitioning to the fall months—a time full of expectations, fresh beginnings and the frenzy of activities marking the beginning of the new season. At FTE we will welcome our new interim president—Peg Birk—and all our teams are in overdrive: planning a major fall Calling Congregations Conference; hosting a retreat for Ministry Fellows and a writer’s workshop for Dissertation Year Fellows; planning activities for new groups of Volunteers Exploring Vocation and much more!
A time to plant and...
Over the years, I’ve spoken with many students who happen to be FTE Fellows (or persons who plan to apply to one of our seven fellowship programs) about their dreams and new beginnings—with quite a few of these conversations taking place in August.
For some, the dream to consider a ministry or doctoral degree has been an idea for quite a while, so my questions are these:
Where do you want to be in the next 5 years? How does this degree help you get there?
What is your timetable?
What institution/program are you thinking about applying to?
How will you pay for it?
Who is part of your support system as you contemplate this work now?
Of course, there are other questions, but these usually get us talking for a good long time about transitions and fresh starts.
A time to uproot…
It isn’t always easy to contemplate the next steps, so it’s important to get clear on the basics for yourself as you listen carefully to God’s call on your life.
It is just fine to acknowledge that you are in a time of transition. You get to ask questions, reflect and pause before taking that next step and uprooting from your routines.
Here is what I know for sure:
- Identifying mentors to explore your dreams and decisions is important in your discernment process
- Talking with other students currently in the program you are considering is critical “on the ground” information you’ll need to make an informed decision
- Exploring the job market while a student (in ministry or the teaching profession) by attending a professional conference or meeting is helpful in understanding the employment landscape.
What is unique about each of these learnings you might ask?
Each one requires you to have conversations and to be in community to get your answers.
At FTE, making space for conversations and convening is part of our DNA. As you approach this season of transitions and new beginnings, we invite you to join us in planting seeds for a new future in theological education.
It is important work to do.
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