Reflections on Year One
Now that I have some time to catch my breath, I’m doing some reflecting on the year that was. Here are six thoughts:
1. Doctoral programs are no joke. The Masters wasn’t easy, but this program clearly takes it to another level. In the end, my lit review referenced 72 sources (out of more than 100 total sources processed) and it spanned 63 pages. That’s just a level above what I’ve done before. It also made for a very busy Fall.
2. Cohorts rule. I’m in a cohort with 7 saints and 2 professors from around the world. Among other things, this means that I have been given opportunities to learn about what God is doing (and wants to do) in all kinds of contexts. Along the way, I’ve learned about business as ministry on the Honduran island of Roatan, internet evangelism in China, hospital administration in Malawi, holistic inner-city ministry in Michigan, and church planting in Cairo. Truly, I end year one with a greater appreciation for God’s global mission and for those living it out, day to day.
3. My topic is compelling. It’s of course of interest to me, but practically every time I’ve shared what I’m studying, the other person has expressed curiosity and interest as well. I’ve realized that very few people or communities are talking about inter-gender dynamics. Frankly, it’s time we right that wrong.
4. We need some theologizing about inter-gender partnership. The first third of my lit review was a theological survey. And while plenty of ink has been spilled on the topic of women in leadership or ministry, comparatively little has been written about partnership dynamics from a theological perspective. We need someone to study male/female partnerships in Scripture in order to help us know what kinds of missional relationships we should be building. Who’s in?!?
5. A little bit of training could go a long way. The middle third of my lit review was an articulation of 7 qualities and characteristics that make for flourishing inter-gender partnerships in mission. And the more I think about the list, the more I think that with a little intentionality and creativity, we really can train people to build better partnerships. To me, thinking intentionally about opportunities to train men and women to build healthy missional partnerships could be the story of a little bit of energy yielding lots of fruit.
6. This is the right program for me. The DMiss offers a blend of concept/theory and “real world” application. In Fuller’s official literature, it’s a “contextualized applied research” degree. And that’s me. If it’s too heady, I lose interest, but if it’s too practical, I lose track of why we’re doing what we’re doing. This program is right in the middle, and therefore it fits me well. Good thing too, since there are three more years to go!
Next up is a break til March. When I emailed my professor to ask what I could do over the break to be prepared for year two, she replied, “relax.”