Many of those who regularly visit Living Wittily will be aware that life is in process of changing for me. For the past 11 years I have served Baptists in Scotland as the Principal of the Scottish Baptist College, and done so with a burden of responsibility and an awareness of high privilege. When a 19 year old lad from Lanarkshire turned up in the West End of Glasgow on the steps of the Scottish Baptist College, with Highers gained at night school after leaving school at 15, and asked to come and study for ministry, he had no idea that 30 years later he would be appointed Principal. Nor that, untrained, untried and untested as he was then, he would later be entrusted with the formation of women and men towards Christian ministry within and beyond the church.
During my time as Principal I have grown and changed, learned more than I ever conceived I would need to know about Higher Education and ministry formation, and met and worked with a remarkable staff in the College and in the wider circle of UWS staff. It has been a rich time, not without its considerable expenseof emotion and energy and time, but always with an awareness of gift, purpose and shared vision, and it's hard to ask for more.
For the past three years I've travelled from Aberdeen to Paisley, living away from home 4 days a week, and working from home. Family life remains as it should the foundation of my life, and the time has come to be at home more, to reconfigure life around a new sense of vocation, and to plan for the next stages of our lives. That sounds as if I am feeling my age! Well yes, and no. At 62 I am indeed feeling my age, as I did at 52 and even 32. But more important is to accept, even embrace change, as what keeps us alive; to understand that movement is what gives impetus; and to co-operate with the reality that desire and hope and vision give life its energy, direction and purpose. All of that I feel, and clearly recognise in the disjunctions and changes, in the stirring up and invitation, that is the continuing work of the Spirit, disturbing with a deeper peace, and calling into newness and risk.
It would be wrong to say I've been pulled out of my comfort zone! Whatever else the past 11 years have been, it hasn't been that, thankfully.
To teach and share with students at the great creative cusp of life that is study; to encourage and support the discovery of new things that converts monochrome faith to plasma screened subtlety; to accompany students in the at times painful but fruitful work of rediscovering what seemed lost; to bring to birth the recovery of faith as proper confidence, so that life becomes both thoughtfully trusting and responsibly informed, what is not to like in that vocation.
To learn how to encapsulate high vocational ideals and powerfully transformative spiritual principles into the framework and discourse of academic documents, that is itself a gift of the Spirit intepreting the glossolalia of the academy!
To demonstrate in church and academy, that academic excellence, vocational integrity, creative scholarship, and formation of character and competence are hard work, and entirely to be the goal of the student life, and to do so in an intentional community, that is what I mean by responsib ility and privilege.
I will complete my tenure as Principal on August 31. It is likely I will continue to teach at the College part time, at least till August 2014. My heart has always been in pastoral work and in sharing the life of a Christian community as theologian, preacher, friend and servant. Where opportunities present I hope to still be of service to Christ and to the work of God's Kingdom. And in addition? God knows!