We love our disciplines. Most of us have committed much of our lives to our particular scholastic domain. In many ways, we count ourselves blessed to work in an academic environment where we get to explore and teach things that still intrigue us.
Unfortunately, many of us find ourselves captured by the narrow band of our profession—or by the even narrower bindings of our particular slice of the discipline. And as our expertise grows, we become ever more comfortable. Like that old reading chair we return to, our discipline becomes our cozy little world. It becomes our security blanket.
Could it be that this narrow band shackles us?
Could it be that our current comfort and sense of security keeps us from areas where God wants to grow us?
Many of us need to get out of our narrow band. We need to escape. Here are some ways to break out:
Take Time to Wonder—to Remain Curious
Einstein once told his fellow academics: ”It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.” In another place, he warned. “He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.”
Don’t Fear Unexpected Passions
As academics, we often restrict our freedom to explore interests and passions outside our narrow band. We make the “efficiency and effectiveness” argument. “I can’t go there—it doesn’t have anything to do with my current research topic or teaching responsibilities.“ To grow, to expand, we must give ourselves freedom to embrace and not fear those unexpected calls to explore. We must break the shackles.
Listen to God when He Whispers
As Christ-followers, we belong to a God who can’t be measured; we serve one whose creative energies are without limit. Because God is interested in everything, he might just direct us toward certain interests and passions. So let’s do it, just for the sake of it. Or maybe, just for the sake of us.
After you’ve done these, add these suggestions to keep your mind refreshed and your passion renewed.
- Seek out colleagues who are in different disciple
- Educate yourself by reading and attending seminars outside your field
- Consider ways your discipline can contribute to another area of study
- Explore collaborative interdisciplinary research
— Dan Jensen, USAFA
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things
you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.