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I Dare You to Engage

Seems like all this world thinks it needs is some good ole “engagement.” I ask God to give friends and loved ones courage and humility to engage with tough stuff. University administrators vie for implementing more “engaging” programs for students. Business jargon is riddled with how company X “engages” their customers more than company Y. Makes me wonder how much “engaging” we’re actually doing.

A lof of these efforts are good, not just well-meaning, but actually good. Efforts to get first-year students to intearct with one another; to introduce yourself to each other, to spend time together, and hopefully to form friendships that truly do last a lifetime. These are beautiful in and of themselves, especially knowing how hard the college transition can be.

Despite the good, I think a lot of these “engagement” initiatives fall well short of their intended vision because true engagement is a lot harder and takes a lot longer than we want it to. Take the mind for instance. I think the point of school is not simply to know a lot, but be given tools to do a lot coupled with the knowledge to know what is worth doing (that thought does not do the point of school justice, but for the sake of this short observation, I’m going to keep it at that). If all engaging with math looks like is route memorization, I think the points been missed. If all engaging with history looks like is simply being able to regurgitate dates and facts, no wonder so many students hate it. Dream with me: what if…

-a philosophy course touched your soul, disrupted your way of doing life, etc. What if it actually changed your way of seeing the world for the better. Gosh. What if a philosophy course equipped you with the tools to repent and ask for forgiveness when you overstepped your boundaries or were clearly in the wrong.

-a history course was about knowing the facts about 9/11 so well that when your good friend disagreed with you about what did or did not happen, you both together searched out what is true.

This stuff gets me fired up, because I know I don’t engage very well– but it can be done well and be life giving. It can revive and renew relationships, open up unexplored worlds, and make us reconsider long-held beliefs.

I’ve been learning how much I suck at loving people. Whenever I feel that “I wasn’t very nice to that person” my first response is becoming less a pep-talk reassuring myself that I was actually nice to that person and they were the ones who didn’t receive it well or I did everything right, they just don’t understand how I love people, but instead an acknowledgement of the fact that I was not nice to that person followed by a brainstorming session consisting of prayer, reflection, and counsel. That’s hard, y’all.

Once again, I’m not here to call you out. I’m here to call you to something higher, to taste the goodness of our Lord who offers us His free grace and mercy because He loves us and desires for us to experience true life. With that knowledge, let us engage with people, programs, and customers in such a way that leaves us dying daily to our old self and being renewed into the image of our great God.

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Houston Clark

part-philosopher, full-bibliophile, this child of God grew up in the PCA not knowing he believed in predestination until his ``liberal`` Episcopal next-door neighbor told him that's what ``PCA-ers`` believe. The only thing he wears at all times is his thoughts/feelings about everything (and maybe his Chris Paul socks). He's as curious as Curious George and loves getting things done (see David Allen's book with same title).

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