New Dean David Smith and I are in that strange liminal zone of transition. He will officially assume the Dean’s role a week from today, but he has already served as Dean at the consecration service this last Saturday. Meanwhile, I moved fully out of my office on Friday. It feels a little like the kingdom of God–already but not yet. 🙂
The Lord has been gracious in this transition. I am so thankful that David Smith has taken hold of the academic wheel of the Seminary. I can already see ways in which he will advance the mission of the Seminary beyond what I have done. It has been delightful to see how excited the community is to have him return to Marion and to give guidance to the academic ventures of the Seminary going forward.
I have a few reflections on transitions of this kind, including pastoral transitions. They basically boil down to thinking of the good of the community and your replacement. Don’t stop serving the community you are leaving just because you are leaving. Don’t push an agenda on it either. Do all the good you can do in the time you have left to the degree that the community wants you to do it.
Be selfless in relation to your replacement. Don’t give in to the fallen temptation not to want things to go as well after you leave. That is of the Devil. Do everything you can to help your community continue to grow, mature, and succeed after you are gone. Do everything you can to equip your successor to be best equipped for the community to do even better than it did while you were in your role.
I commented last week that I felt good about where the Seminary is at as I leave. I think the faculty have done well to fix the most glaring areas for improvement in our curriculum. Dr. Fosua has completely improved the Worship course. Dr. Peñaranda has completely overhauled our Spanish courses. Dr. Derr is rewriting the two courses that had not been revised since the Seminary started. Dr. Smith will bring great new vision for the academics of the Seminary, but I don’t feel like I have left him anything major to fix. For that I am grateful to the faculty.
It has been a delight to learn from Dr. Wayne Schmidt these last five and a half years. He has taught me much about how to grow a seminary. I have learned a lot from him about how to lead a “seminary plant,” if I ever want to do that again. 🙂 I am incredibly grateful to him for letting me continue to work for the Seminary throughout the summer.
As those of you who know him would expect, he is a model of selfless Christlikeness and has been so throughout this process. He is completely surrendered to God’s will and doesn’t think of himself but of what will most advance God’s kingdom.
So my deepest thanks to the faculty, staff, students, alumni, board, and friends of Wesley Seminary for six incredible years, the chance of a lifetime. My participation in its founding may very well turn out to be the crowning contribution of my life. It is truly poised to change the church for good in astounding ways. The potential is practically boundless. I expect to hear amazing things coming out of the Seminary these next days!
Keith Drury has asked me if I have felt the predictable second guessing you always do when you make a transition like this one. If so, I won’t admit it! What I will say is that I am absolutely convinced that I am in the will of God and that this was the right time for a transition in the Seminary. And this is not a complete good-bye–David Smith seems willing to continue to let me teach for you some in the days ahead.
Also suffice it to say, I am incredibly excited to join the School of Theology and Ministry (STM) this Fall and to return full time to the classroom. As Wayne has said often, administration was an act of love. But I would teach and preach for free. I chanced upon a strategy meeting in STM on Friday and was amazed at the innovative juices that were flowing. “You guys are awesome,” I found myself saying.
So you haven’t heard the last of me. God bless you, Wesley Seminary!