STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 04/21/2014
Being a college president means lots of air travel; in fact, I recently logged 23,000 miles in ten days. I’m sure I’m not alone in this: having a good book along can redeem the time. One of the amazing things about being made in the image of God is that words can become worlds; these symbols allow us to be traveling companions on someone else’s journey. We are not exactly the same, as we finish reading a good book, as when we began.
Sometimes the journey is straightforward. For example, as I flew to Singapore for the first time, I read former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew’s autobiography, From Third World to First. I arrived there newly aware of how much this vibrant country has accomplished—and the extent to which integrity, hard work, strategic thinking, intelligence, and decisiveness can enable places to become globally significant.
Sometimes it’s a more interior journey. I recently read Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society. This book is about the effects of distraction on discipleship, and it is even more relevant today than when it was first published in 1980. I’ve also just read Malcolm Gladwell’s David & Goliath. Perhaps you know that it was while working on this book that Gladwell rediscovered the salience of his Christian upbringing. “Here I was,” he said, in a Religion News Service interview, “writing about people of extraordinary circumstances and it slowly dawned on me that I can have that too.” Writing projects can shape the author’s life.
I’ve used quite a bit of my airplane time to review various drafts of my own book, View from the Top. Writing (and rewriting) it has shaped my own thinking about leadership in profound ways. It’s also reminded me, over and over, that I cannot do all that I want. On any given day at least ten meaningful, important things compete for my attention. It has taken me several years longer than I expected to write this book, but it is incredibly gratifying to see it come to completion.
My other in-flight reading includes preview copies of College publications. I found it energizing to read the brief articles about 50 alumni in this issue of STILLPOINT, and I hope you will, too. Each person profiled has responded to a different worthwhile, compelling call. At the end of many of the profiles you will learn how you can contact these individuals, and I encourage you to do so—whether to renew an old friendship or to reach out in encouragement to someone new.
As students and alumni we are travelling companions on one another’s journeys. We are not exactly the same, after spending four years together, as we would have been spending those four years with a different group of people, in a different place. May you continue to find your life strengthened and deepened by the rich Gordon College community of which we are all a part.