Faith traditions and (academic) communities are uniquely positioned to offer insights, experiences, and practices that contribute significantly to critical reflection on society’s values, thus helping to shape and broaden higher education’s search for a “core of integrity” in a time of uncertainty and change.
- Journal of College & Character VOLUME 13, No. 2, May 2012,
Toward Meaningful Learning: Reconnecting Faith and Civic Action in Higher Education
by Mark Laboe and Karl Nass, DePaul University
What happens when visions of success collide?
There are many who would help us achieve success, however we define it. That truly is one of the strengths of Simpson College. Here a student will find ample opportunity to describe, discern, discover, and dream her success. Here a student will find faculty and staff deeply committed to whatever he might imagine is his success. Success at Simpson College and, more importantly, success through Simpson College in the working world, is powerfully corporate and wonderfully relational. We never come to success alone. We will work off the shoulders and experience of our parents, peers, professors, and mentors. As the vision of success takes shape, we draw upon all that challenges us, all that invites us to be articulate. Hopefully, success at Simpson keeps us curious, open, and inquiring throughout the rest of our life.
However we might define success, it will always come into some sort of conflict with others’ definitions. Parents, like my father, will question the direction our sense of success takes. When I told him I was going to attend seminary, he sat me down to let me know that he thought this was a poor choice on my part for I would not be able to earn enough money. Our definitions of success clearly clashed. Professors’ definitions, hopefully, will challenge us along the way. How open will we be? Surely, employers will have their own definitions of success which may well call into question any definition we have been developing along the way.
From the perspective of our Methodist heritage, John Wesley’s definition of success needs to weigh in on this conversation: Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can. Any definition that we might individually create needs to be tempered by Wesley’s clear expression. This is what it means when we accept Jesus’ own articulation of faithful success: you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with your entire mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22: 36 – 40).
Success and any definition of it does not simply reside within each individual. We come to our success through a succession of critical relationships. If we are a community at Simpson College, then we acknowledge we are a people shaped by and through a Methodist heritage within the Christian tradition. Any individual definition has to be placed before the Cross (certainly not successful place to end one’s life in the context of Jesus’ own time), run through the crucible of service, molded by the imagination of the individual in community, and offered on a constant, consistent basis.