A message to colleagues
An informal communique
Good afternoon, colleagues,
Thanks for permitting me to clog your inbox with an informal communique.
First, Colette and I would like to sincerely thank all of you for the warm welcome to the MLC family. We are grateful for the friendship displayed in countless ways: tips on services in New Ulm, notes and housewarming gifts, warm smiles and pausing to visit even during busy times. We thank you one and all. It truly is a joy to be on the receiving end of such fruits of faith. I cannot help but think of a “sneak preview” that grants us a foretaste of heaven, and the joys of the family of God living and working and praising the Savior in perfect harmony. True, this side of heaven we’re still sinners and working in a sinful world, so harmony can be elusive. Yet, thanks be to Christ, our hearts are filled with solid hope as we labor together and experience a harmony that the world envies.
The main purpose of this note is to answer the question you might have, “so what’s the new guy doing with his time?” It has been an exciting several weeks as I’ve witnessed God’s many gifts to MLC through all of you. In short, since this is an institution dedicated to learning and teaching, permit me to use “learning” and “teaching” as a brief outline to share some of my plans to serve you this next year.
I hope to learn as much as I can about MLC and its campus family. How?
- I’m conducting group interviews with incomingfreshmen, trying to get to know them and to get their initial reactions to campus life. It has been a joy to meet students who already are eager to serve Jesus. Some taught VBS, some worked Katrina relief, some did “Jesus Cares” ministry, some have taught VBS in Latvia or Dominican Republic, and so many more examples. What great gifts God brings to us! In addition, I hope to make it a practice of eating in the cafeteria at least once a week and try to informally chat with several students. Maybe I’ll develop a “lunch time listening session” so students know where to find me and sit down and visit for a while. Down the road, I also open to perhaps set up a Q & A session with any interested students.
- Listening to faculty. I hope to occasionally attend divisional meetings as schedule allows, just to listen to the discussion and the questions with which you wrestle. Once my feet are on the ground, I also hope to attend a class once in a while to get to meet students and to see the faculty “in action.” Purpose of this visit is not any type of “peer review” or assessment of teaching. It is simply sitting and watching and listening, and letting the students know that I think that the chapel and classroom are the vital parts of their student life at MLC.
- Listening to staff. Once again, time permitting, I hope to occasionally chat with staff people as I see them, or maybe sit in on a meeting once in a while. I know that this first year will be quite busy, but I want to get to know you and your ideas for MLC.
- Listening to the self study process as it continues. I know that this will be a great help for me to get a broader understanding of everything happening at this school.
I realize I’m stretching the definition of the term, but think broadly about teaching others to value the mission and ministry of MLC. To that end...I will be attending conferences, both pastors and teachers, to not only give a MLC report but also listen to their concerns and questions. I am very grateful to other faculty members and OMA personnel who attend the conferences as well. We need to constantly remind God’s people of the Gospel work done at MLC that is mission critical for the Great Commission.
- I have also accepted several preaching assignments and Bible class assignments in the next year. By God’s grace I hope these opportunities to share the Word of life will remind God’s people that MLC is a place where that Word of life is used daily, and students are trained to share that Word with others.
- I will be going out with OMA people on donor gatherings/events. While it is still rather early in the year, numerous evening events have already been scheduled. A tentative goal is to be at such gatherings about three times a month. At these events I will be talk to people about the many wonderful things God is doing at MLC and through MLC. At these events (and at conferences), I will also ask people about their concerns and questions regarding MLC. When problems or mistakes are identified, I will thank people for their honest concern and invite them to help us make MLC even better. Although this is listening on my part, it involves coming back and “teaching” our campus family how others see us and the areas where we can improve.
My thanks to all of you for your efforts and labors. The cleanliness of the campus buildings has been noticed by several visitors. I get the comments, but the people involved really deserve the thanks. The grounds and lawns are beautiful, and several freshmen have commented on that. Again, thanks to the people involved. A student this morning mentioned how wonderful it is to be at a school where people are friendly. He specifically mentioned office personnel and secretaries. I thank you, your politeness and smiles are noticed by students. Another student mentioned the fact that profs take time to say hello, even if they don’t know the student. Again, smiles and concern are truly appreciated. I thank you all for your hard labors (often doing too much with too little time and not enough people!), and I appreciate your attitudes as you work here at MLC. My thanks also to the vice presidents. They have been patient with my questions during meetings, and patiently provided information to help me understand the background of various issues. At times, I know that I’m an anchor in the agenda process.
Finally, I want to share words of Jesus that I have found especially comforting this last month. Jesus said, Your Father knows what you need before your ask him. I find it comforting because I know the Father knows even when I don’t. Having the excitement of seeing a school year start up, and not really knowing much about anything, it is a comfort to know God answers prayers before I even know what to ask for. Thanks be to Jesus, whose blood provides “clear channel” communication with the Father. I know and you know that God hears and answers our hearts, for the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. When the press of duties, or the stress of time, or the troubles of life seem to weigh us down or sap or energy - Jesu Juva - Jesus help! Even if we can’t put into words that which weighs us down, our Savior knows and pours our worries into the Father’s lap. I find comfort in that truth, and I pray you do also.
Jesus keep you and yours safe in his warm embrace.
Thank you for reading.
Cordially, in Christ, Mark Z