Waiting (for an Academic Position)

Waiting (for an academic position) Bond Chapel university of Chicago

Waiting (for an Academic Position)

by Steve Huerd

Within the pages of Scripture, we find many saints who had to wait upon God to fulfill their life calling.
The Wonder of Waiting.  Abraham had to wait for a son, Joseph had to wait to see how his dreams would be fulfilled, Moses required forty years of preparation, Caleb finally conquered Hebron after waiting forty years for an entire unbelieving generation to die in the wilderness, and the list goes on and on.  Waiting is one of God’s primary tools he uses to shape us into the kind of men and women he desires us to be.  God often gives us dreams, aspirations, and desires of what he wants to do through us to bless others.  It is during these years of waiting where God builds Christ’s character in us (Rom. 8:29) through sifting and pruning us (John 15:1-5) that we might truly know him and become even more fruitful.

The world and many who wish us well continually tell us, “You must do this and that” to get to where you want to go.  You need to complete your education, be published, attend the right types of academic communities, intentionally build strategic relationships, and so forth in order to make yourself the best candidate you can be possibly be.  Granted, there must be a balance between the waiting and preparing oneself, and these two need not be separate entities (though often it seems that even with the best of human preparation, there remain long seasons of just waiting upon God)  

Tony Stolzfus, who serves as a professional pastor’s ministry coach claims:
In God’s economy, the power of your ministry is a function of the depth of your processing. In other words, the more deeply Jesus’ character gets worked into you, the more you have to give. The more years God has to sift you and refine you and prune you for greater growth, the more potential you have for world-changing impact.”
The Divine Perspective About Our Academic Careers.  The biblical examples mentioned above along with particular verses seem to affirm these truths.  For example, the Psalmist declares, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain” (Psalm 127:1-2)  David also claims “And in thy book, they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.”  Paul states that, “We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God has prepared beforehand” (Eph. 2:10).  These and other verses surely affirm that God has prepared a specific place for us to accomplish the good works he has prepared for us.  God sovereignly works on both ends, both for those seeking academic positions and for those seeking to fulfill them, to accomplish his agenda with the person of his choosing.
Often we fret and worry, becoming impatient with God and demanding for him to grant us the position we feel we deserve.  Yet even in waiting, there is danger as Stoltzfus states, “It is so easy to end up resisting the very thing that will take us where we want to go! We are protesting and squirming and trying to get out from under the knife, while God in his mercy is saying, ‘If I let you go now, you will never become what you are capable of becoming.’ If we truly demand release, God will honor our request and let us go forward into a shallow shadow of our call, but He is in no hurry to release us from the wilderness.”
Pondering upon these thoughts causes me to rethink my perspective and relax knowing that a loving God is working behind the scenes in ways I can’t see.  It causes me to read again Andrew Murray’s classic book entitled “Waiting Upon God,” while journaling my thoughts and prayers.I find that I have to continually remind myself of this perspective time and time again when I become anxious and insecure.  When I do trust in him, I can take one day at a time, experiencing the peace he promises in Phil. 4:6-7.  I want to yield myself fully to the Master Surgeon, giving him full access to all areas of my life letting him take the time he needs to shape me into the professor that I believe he is calling me to be.

Self Promotion or Sharing Knowledge?

Self promotion Guru

Self Promotion or Sharing Knowledge?

 by Dr. Sharon Short 
Most people would agree that individuals who brag about themselves are obnoxious. “Showing off,” “tooting your own horn,” even “calling undue attention to yourself” are generally deemed unacceptable social behaviors. Descriptors such as “blowhard,” “loudmouth,” and “windbag” come to mind, and none of them are complimentary. This negative sentiment about “putting oneself forward” can create considerable dissonance for someone who is seeking employment and is suddenly expected to become an aggressive self-promoter.
In his book Become a Recognized Authority in your Field in 60 Days or Less, author Robert Bly (2002) describes the marketing of oneself as establishing one’s “guru status,” and in his book he outlines a strategy for positioning oneself as a “guru” in a particular field. In Bly’s words, “Gurus are not born, they are ‘manufactured’ through self-marketing and promotion.” (p. 21).
Many job seekers might find such strategies odious. We do not want to be the kind of people who boast about themselves! Fortunately, in this situation a subtle shift in perspective can make a world of difference. Bly explains that what he means by a “guru” is someone who has gained significant mastery over a specific discipline, and is able to communicate this knowledge “in a clear, understandable, and useful manner to a well-defined target audience” (p. 9). Bly goes on, “You build your reputation as an expert in your field by giving your knowledge away [emphasis added] in a variety of forums—articles, books, seminars, speeches, newsletters, e-zines, Web sites, and information products” (p. 41). If building a professional reputation in order to gain a desirable position can be redefined as sharing one’s useful knowledge with others, then the odium of “marketing oneself” is greatly diminished.
I can enthusiastically endorse the premise of becoming an expert in a well-defined niche and then sharing that knowledge in many different ways. If that is what a guru is, then bring it on! What I can not get excited about “selling,” “marketing,” or “promoting” myself. I am not a commodity to be bought and sold, nor do I want to be regarded and treated as such. Sharing my knowledge, though, is an altogether different and more positive mission. That sounds like something I would be glad to do.

Announcing Our (Free) Academic Career Preparation Gratis Course

Gratis 30 Video Session Academic Career Course

Picture Yourself in a Full-Time Academic Career

That’s where your success begins– with your dream. 

Everyone in higher education today started with the dream of moving into academia.

Perhaps you were told that you don’t have much of a chance in higher education because of the fact that the academic job market is so challenging.  Ironically, every professor who gives that advice has, him-or-herself, landed an academic job.

We ask– “If they can… why can’t you?”

To help you get the needed mindsets and to begin the academic career-equipping process, we are offering a free 30 session video curriculum on Academii.  Here’s what to expect:
Gratis Announcement Blog

Academii Gratis Course

Academii Gratis is a fast-paced 30 session Academii video curriculum series. The Gratis Membership is free simply for enrolling! Gratis serves an introduction to the Academii Community. Each person is welcome and encouraged to invite other scholars into the community of learning.  Feel free to share this Gratis course with other scholars and academic program leaders who may be interested.

Sample Video Sessions in our Gratis Series


  • Think Now, Not Later, About Your Academic Career (Module 1 | Session 1)
  • Thinking About Types of Institutions (Module 1 | Session 2)
  • It’s Not Just About What or Who You Know (Module 1 | Session 3)
  • The Importance of Academic Societies (Module 1 | Session 4)
  • Building Your Academic Social Network (Module 1 | Session 5)
  • Doing Something Not Nothing (Module 1 | Session 6)
  • Understanding What You’re Up Against (Module 1 | Session 7)


See all 30 sessions and get started


Biology PHD: Where Will It Take You?

The great danger of seeking advanced degrees is not planning for one’s academic career options far enough in advance, prior to graduation.
Of the 16,000 Biology Ph.D. students entering programs each year, over 1/3 will not complete.  The average Biology Ph.D. requires 7 years to complete.
Of those who do graduate, 7/10 will enter a post-doc program. Sadly, over 30% of all graduates will be forced to do two or more post-doc programs, all because of the lack of academic positions available.

Study by Jessica Polka
Study by Jessica Polka

There are positions available, but the market is tight and requires savvy approaches to help graduates gain a strategic position search advantage. Earning a degree and assuming one will beat the odds just isn’t realistic.
The best advice?
Invest in your education and career at the same time.  Don’t wait until you complete your program.
Original Article by Jessica Polka on ASCB.org
1 – Science Careers Annual Postdoc Survey (2012)
2 – doi:10.1038/472276a
3 – Sauermann & Roach 2012 PLOS ONE; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0036307
Unless otherwise noted, NIH Biomedical Workforce Working Group (2012).

The Ire of Doctoral Students at Mizzou

The Missouri University state college system intersects at Columbia, Missouri– which is better known as Mizzou, home to the popular Mizzou Tigers and a host of associated college traditions.
But despite the tranquil campus and rolling lawns, Vimal Patel reports a growing unrest among its graduate students, including doctoral students, over their treatment and remuneration, among other issues.

A handful of students launched a type of movement through the agency of a graduate rights forum, resulting in two weeks of protests and administrative activism.  The graduate students report the temporary loss of their university health-insurance subsidies, the lack of student housing for grad students, and incredibly modest stipends paid out for fellowships to grad assistants: a mere $12,000 annually.
These challenges echo similar situations faced by doctoral students everywhere.  Because of the staggering lack of academic positions available compared to the volume of graduates, newly-minted doctors often take refuge in graduate fellowships such as those at Mizzou.  The situation isn’t likely to change soon, as university funding issues, student debt, and challenges in higher education and the Department of Education indicate there is no end in sight.
As such, the best advice for doctoral students and graduates is to invest more heavily in themselves and the professional aspects of their career preparation.  Doing so will provide better odds in identifying and landing the relatively small number of academic positions that do exist.  What is happening at Mizzou is a microcosm of the broader crisis, and students are realizing it is up to them to become activists for their own plight.  Included in these actions should be proactively preparing for their careers– and not only challenging budget-strapped administrations with little wiggle room.  The solution is certainly both-and… not “either-or.”
If you’re a graduate student or one on a grad fellowship, take control by investing in yourself… not only raging at the machine.
Original Full Article by Vimal Patal
Image courtesy of Missouri Times

Juggernaut Status (In Your Quest for an Academic Career)

Photo Courtesy of Marine Corps on Flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/marine_corps/15038063844/in/photolist-oUS1sQ-nQcCih-9wq8aK-6HvMZt-pjQGrR-7RANui-e5Zx7W-6HvMTk-nxMg1X-e82kut-9vS8kn-6TQMqr-7PMjuR-eKeno4-bGJTrX-hdz7ao-e5TTn4-ft51zg-pv1ocJ-bF8HC4-e5TTjp-dg9o2M-XNKHu-c7txx7-4Cw2wD-e5Zx6Q-e5Zxcw-a81T5x-e5TTCR-e5TTgR-a84Kuw-dg9DeF-dg93pn-dg95mN-dx1FvH-fT7fAM-ftjmFA-dg9rdt-dg9sRS-e5Zx8m-9KchKT-rwhzw7-9seMJJ-a1KbFE-e5TT9R-9pxHXt-bGetGa-6HzRkm-a1K9cj-a1Jufm
Juggernaut Status
Staying focused during the academic job search can be challenging.  Lots of things vie for one’s attention, and this can distract even the most committed scholar. For this reason, the successful candidate needs to stay connected to their career vision. He or she also needs to look within and find the vitality to maintain the intensity required for the sometimes challenging search process. The essence of this is described in this video on developing Juggernaut Status.
After viewing this resource, be sure to go to our “Library” tab on the Academii website menu to gain access to amazing resources to help you on your way.

Photo Courtesy of Marine Corps on Flickr

Advancing Your Academic Career Through Blogging

Image Courtesy of KristinaB on Flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/barnett/2836828090/in/photolist-5jFua9-2NE65H-fcFSH-5vr8AD-nsHVZ1-53RCCs-5LGncg-GoGK7-siyFa-fcFao-waV7u-5PC2h-5w2mwv-8FWfyj-t4wP-5b2SHx-fpY49-2ToGm6-7AF1hr-4jqtVo-7EYg8H-5T3wwy-nxBta-c658FS-dzjAky-bC3rXP-cC1bJs-3aZBuR-4YYHCn-8hQekB-5Bo3Jf-BsSBE-56xqcd-5FknuQ-7T9xQj-4UguPy-bnok7-bTVtJP-4pobhA-peJ8R-6tqDi-5rwwAb-8ykuf1-4LyLmB-8Ut2td-dUnZaM-aj2RRC-hzxKSV-58bUfr-ajiSCt

Advancing Your Academic Career Through Blogging

Blogging is a media of enormous influence today, but one that is frequently neglected by academics and would-be professors.  This is largely due to the fact that it is sometimes deemed “not scholarly,” but that is a short-sighted view of one of the world’s most influential media.  Instead, one might consider that however scholarly an academic journal may be, what it boasts in terms of erudite academic credentials, it lacks in popular appeal.  The opposite is often true for blogging.
But rather than taking the bait of the false-dichotomy of the “either/or” fallacy (EITHER blogging OR journal articles), why not do both?  Blogging is a way for a person moving to higher education to gain a following.  This credibility converts into having influence over potential students and to public credibility, both of which universities and other institutions want.  For this reason, we shouldn’t neglect nor underestimate the value of blogging as a way to enhance our attractiveness as an academic candidate.
Learn more about this idea below in the featured video. After viewing this resource, connect more deeply with Academii by taking advantage of our mini-course featuring a full month’s worth of daily video vignettes by joining our free Academii Gratis membership.

Image Courtesy of KristinaB on Flickr

Why the Best Hire May Not Be the Best Hire

Best Hire
Overview: Given the choice between a job candidate with a perfect resume and one who has fought through difficulty, human resources executive Regina Hartley always gives the “Scrapper” a chance. As someone who grew up with adversity, Hartley knows that those who flourish in the darkest of spaces are empowered with the grit to persist in an ever-changing workplace. “Choose the underestimated contender, whose secret weapons are passion and purpose,” she says. “Hire the Scrapper.”

Why the Best Hire May Not Be the Best Hire

Suggested Reading Here

Understanding Seminary Professors

For a living, I am primarily a seminary professor. There are lots of different types of professors and it’s easy to misunderstand the nature of this kind of a position. For example, there are Old Testament professors and New Testament professors; Theology and History professors– and, ironically, Historical Theology professors (go figure); there are Apologetic (defending the faith) Professors and Homiletic (preaching) Professors… and Christian Education professors (that’s me).
Seminary Profs generally do one of two things: They provide (a) theological and biblical education and (b) ministerial preparation. Theological and Biblical Education is primarily about biblical content (what the Bible teaches). Ministerial Preparation is primarily about equipping people to use that information (what to do with the Bible and how to do the job of ministry– and what THAT means is “helping people cultivate a relationship with God”).
And because there is so much content that is taught in a seminary or divinity school, so many subdisciplines in seminaries, people often assume that “every” seminary professor is a biblical scholar.. but that’s not really the case.
A Biblical Scholar? Not me.
Take me, for example. I am not (SAY “NOT”) a biblical scholar… not in the least. Now, I DO have a working knowledge of theology and a more expansive knowledge of the Bible than some people– but it’s nothing (SAY “NOTHING”) compared to many of my colleagues. Each of us has our specialty.
Two Sides of the Seminary: Arts and Divinity
Seminaries have two primary areas– arts and divinity. Divinity is about “what.” Arts is about “how.” That’s a horrible oversimplification and not even completely accurate– but it’s a fair approximation and generally holds to be true.
So seminaries offer those types of degrees– Master of ARTS and Master of DIVINITY.
Divinity Degrees are generally related to biblical content areas (knowing). Arts degrees are typically related to practical ministry areas (doing). Again– this is a terribly shallow representation, but it’s got a lot of truth to it, and for our purposes here– it’s a valid description of how to understand what I’m saying.
The Liberal Arts: Practical Living and Practical Ministry
I teach in the Arts side of the school, but do very little in the Divinity side. So, I know and can do a little in the area of Education (such as leadership principles, leadership theory, organizational management and process, educational theory, educational psychology, motivation theory, educational philosophy, learning theory, communication, problem solving, critical thinking, etc.). So my job is primarily helping future ministers and missionaries know how to help people find God and get to know Him. And I do that by teaching them how to construct, lead, and run ministries that can help reach, teach, and spiritually feed and nourish preschoolers, children, youth, adults, senior adults, special needs people, and help those leaders know how to help people find their way spiritually, so they can become all God has made them to be. And because it’s liberal arts, I also help my students understand how other disciplines and subjects integrate and fit into one another: like how politics and faith work together– or how Christians should think about and deal with practical areas of life as a believer– medicine, justice, morality, meaning, economics, choices, etc. That’s, again, a major simplification of my job, but it’s the gist of what I do.
Divinity Studies: Classical Learning in Bible, Theology, Philosophy, etc.

And just like I have an expertise– each of my colleagues has his own emphases. Whereas I work on the Arts side of the school, most others work on the Divinity side of the school.
Some of them are theologians. A theologian often has a good working knowledge of the Bible, but his primary emphasis is, well, “theology.” That means that he primarily works with SYSTEMS of THOUGHT and DOCTRINAL FORMULATIONS. And each theologian has certain strengths and weaknesses. Some theologians are very strong in, say, what the Bible says about God, Salvation, and Meaning– but may not be near as strong in details about specific Bible books, such as the individual cities the Apostle Paul visited on his various missionary journeys. In fact, a theologian may not know that much at all about some of those more ‘textual’ areas of scripture. What’s more, theologians may specialize in a given area like systematic theology, or philosophical theology, or historical theology, etc.
Other professors are biblicists or biblical professorsbiblical theologians. Among them are New Testament Profs or Old Testament Profs, and the like. Some of these may specialize in the Old Testament– but not have a great handle on ALL of it (since it’s a big book). For example, I have a good friend who is an Old Testament professor but who doesn’t feel like the Hebrew language of the Old Testament is his strong suit. (What??!!!??). It’s really not that far fetched, though, if you know much about how it all works. An Old Testament (OT) Prof may be a specialist on the Ancient Near East or the Pentateuch, or Early Monarchial History or Post-Exilic Prophetic Literature… and feel somewhat weak in other parts of the Old Testament.

The discussion goes on… endlessly.

What This is All About
I say all that to make a point and to ask for a little slack for a liberty that I am going to take in some future upcoming posts.
Like I said earlier, I’m personally NOT a biblical scholar… but here’s what I am: I’m a Christian believer who tries to think deeply about key issues and phenomena (cultural, social, philosophical, biblical, etc.) [or, in other words, LIFE] and who likes to try to produce thought-provoking ideas to help people understand those things AT A STREET LEVEL– because that’s where most of us live. I try to make God and life from His perspective UNDERSTANDABLE as much as possible.
But sometimes I like to think about and dialogue on questions that I’m not a specialist on– on things that perhaps others should address… but they’re not here!!! And one other thing– just because a person (me) isn’t a world-renowned expert on everything I talk about doesn’t mean my perspectives are useless or dangerous. It just means that they are limited in their perspective (but I can deal with that, if you can). Hey~ if I waited until I knew something before ever saying anything, I’d never feel the freedom to even write one post on my blog!
So, that’s why when a friend asks a question that stimulates me to think, I can either SAY NOTHING… OR I can try to provide a reasonable answer, on the street level, though it may lack the specificity or technical accuracy or breadth or depth that a formal specialist in that theological or biblical area would prefer.
That’s my way of saying that, although other people could often do a better job answering certain things than I, I’m going to “take a stab” at some issues from time to time that interest me (and some of you)– even though my knowledge is sometimes a little sophomoric.
That way, even though it’s not the final word and even though it could make me the source of criticism by some more informed specialists, many of them aren’t taking the time to write to the average person about these issues. And if no one answers people’s questions, then what?
What To Look For In Some (Not All) Future Posts
So that’s my REALLY LONG disclaimer.
In the future, I’m going to take the liberty of answering questions that, maybe, I have no business trying to answer. And if someone reads a post and thinks he or she could answer it better or more accurately– I’d be happy to give those people “props” and let them write their own piece, so I can link my post with theirs.
But for now, I’m excited to give at least elementary answers to at least a few questions that people have or that people ask me to address. It’ll be fun.