Words from Wood-Mar
Vocation and mission
“I believe in a God who has created people to be role players in a grand drama.”
In the great 20th-century epic The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien imbued in his work a Christian concept of calling or vocation. In a conversation early in the trilogy, the wizard Gandalf explains to Frodo, the frustrated Hobbit, why he must accept the difficult mission placed before him. Frodo replies, “I wished the ring had never come to me.” Gandalf counters, “So do I and so do all that live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that has been given us.” Like the author of The Lord of the Rings, I believe in a God who has designed this world and created people to be role players in a grand drama. Like the characters in Tolkien’s work, we may be gifted for particular tasks, and we are asked to choose to enter the drama at the appropriate time and fulfill our missions.
I think many of us struggle to discover what God would have us do. We search earnestly for guidance by reading the Bible, by taking tests that evaluate our giftedness, and certainly by praying. When I was young, God placed individuals in my path who helped me learn to understand my own gifts and role in this life. My parents set the stage by providing encouragement and creating space for the presence of God in our lives. Several teachers also mentored me, including Dr. D. C. Martin, professor of Old Testament at Grand Canyon University. He taught me that faith is not something reserved for Sunday or worship, but it is an integral part of all of life. It was because of mentors like him that I discovered my calling in life — I am a Christian leader and educator who helps students earn an education informed by and integrated with Christian faith commitments, empowering them to begin a journey where they will change the world in the name of Jesus.
Many people asked me last year, “Why are you interested in becoming president of George Fox University?” The most important reason is the fact that Jesus Christ is at the center of everything in the university. I came here eight years ago as provost because I saw in the faculty, staff, and students a clear commitment to Jesus and to an educational experience that is uniquely Christian in its very essence. I believe God has called me now to help the George Fox community articulate and construct a vision for the university that is consistent with its past heritage and looks forward to the development of a dynamic Christian institution for the 21st century.