Folks, many of us faculty dreamed about being teachers. But, I guarantee that few of us dreamed of attending faculty meetings. So, when we found out today that our dean cancelled the meeting today, I suspect there was a private “woo-hoo” in every office–after making sure it wasn’t an April fools joke. If you are not a faculty member let me tell you a bit about this thing called faculty meetings. What I say is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but make no mistake, these are actual beliefs that we hold.
1. Every one of us believes that these meetings should determine the direction and activity of the school. We are the esteemed thinkers; purveyors of truth and therefore should be listened to when we deliberate on best practices of teaching, educational content, assessment of students, and setting the overall direction of the school. Never mind that almost no professor has any training in pedagogy other than watching their own teachers. We are specialists in our field but want to shape the entire school.
2. Faculty meetings are where we discuss these matters. There are faculty ranks (full profs, associates, assistants, lecturers; chairpersons; deans, etc) but in the meeting, every faculty member has an opinion and feels free to share his or her nuances regarding the comments made already.
3. Because of the democratic nature of faculty meetings, our personalities really shine. Those of the “just do it” mentality tend to want to move on quickly. Those of the more conservative personality are much more inclined to check and recheck for possible unconsidered danger in a particular venture.
4. As a result, faculty meetings are a bit like a meeting of Ents. It takes a long time just to say hello. You want to decide something? Well, that will take two or three hours.
In fact, Biblical Seminary faculty meetings aren’t as horrible as I am depicting. We do discuss very important matters. We do pray and frequently do work in the Word together. Furthermore, listening to each other and discerning the will of God does take time. Hurried decisions almost always problematic later on.
The challenge I have is knowing when to say when. I tend to be a contributor to the conversations. I think I have something of merit to say that hasn’t been said yet. I need to ask myself: Are my comments necessary? Will I later wish I had made my voice heard? Did I speak in a way that honors Christ? Did I listen well before jumping in? When commenting, do my colleagues recognize my characterizations of their positions? When I listen to the report of a committee do I first seek to learn from them or to question the basis of their work and thinking as if I could have done a better job.
The work of faculty at a seminary is invigorating. Faculty meetings are less so, but still important. Thanks Todd for cancelling ours today so that we can do some other things.