From the Dean


The decade of life from 18 to 28 years of age can be one of the most formative periods in a person’s life. Decisions made during these years can significantly shape and impact who we are and who we’ll become. I know this has been true in my journey. How I came to work at George Fox, who I married, how I spend discretionary time, my convictions, my passions, my worldview, what I’m investing my time in – all these things are directly related to the choices I made during that decade of my life. This is why I love ministering to college students, and why I feel privileged to be one of many who are walking alongside them at this stage of their journey. 

Have you heard your daughter or son ask these questions?

Who am I?
Who am I becoming?
What am I going to major in?
What should I do for a career?
What is God’s will for my life?

I find students are continually asking these questions and many more as they journey through their developmental process as a young adult. Answering these questions can be easy for some and more difficult for others. And they obviously want to make the “right” decisions in answering these questions.

How do our students find the answers to these big questions at this phase of their life? How do they discern and understand God’s will for their lives now and in the future? Our goal is that students will “Be Known” in every part of their George Fox experience. One significant aspect of our work is assisting students in this process of discovering their life’s calling, passions and spiritual gifts.

Our university pastor, Sarah Baldwin, articulated one way she heard about discovering who we are through the acronym SHAPE, which includes the following:

Spiritual Gifts: gifts God has given us
Heart: our passions, what makes us feel alive
Abilities: natural talents we possess
Personality: lens by which the above aspects are manifested
Experiences: occurrences in life that influence who we are and what we’re about

I encourage students to look at the gifts God has given them, their passions, their strengths, the unique individual they are, and the experiences they can draw from when making important choices in their lives.

I’ve had the privilege of having numerous conversations with seniors at George Fox who were pondering how their SHAPE has influenced them now and how it will impact them after graduation. I’ve heard their excitement and concern regarding the decisions they are making in their last year of college, as well as those they will need to make when they graduate. Many of them have more questions than answers. They are “in process” with figuring out the next phase of life. I’m amazed at how these conversations end up looking at how God has gifted them, and affirming their passions and strengths.

My hope and prayer is that you continue to take advantage of the divine appointments to actively listen to your student as they ponder pivotal questions and discover more about who God has created them to be. Please do not underestimate the power of your listening ear and wise counsel. If you may be thinking you have missed opportunities to listen well, be encouraged that you can still seize those precious moments to hear and encourage your son or daughter. Keep asking questions and you may be surprised at what you hear about their growth and maturation.

God continues to have a wonderful plan for your child’s life. It’s an honor to journey with them as they engage in this formative time of their life.

Mark Pothoff
Dean of Community Life