Horton on being a Christian academic

A short while ago, Bob Horton (Professor of Soil Physics at Iowa State) talked with a group of MSU faculty and graduate students about what it meant for him to be a Christian academic. He has a powerful story of how God worked in his life to show him that God was less interested in his academic success than in his knowing God and serving God well.

When it became obvious to Horton that God was asking more of him, especially in terms of love, he approached this challenge in a very academic way: he did as much as research as he could on the subject of love. The result has been a conviction to be more open to how God is working around him: from following an initial sense that God was calling him to ask others how he could pray for them (and doing so immediately), Horton has seen God working through him to provide miraculous healing (primarily for/with people with no /little Christian background). His testimony gave evidence of his deep desire to love others and care for them, and wanting to grow in that love.

As much as I appreciated hearing how the Spirit was working in and through his life, I was most struck by Horton’s words about what it meant to be a Christian academic.
According to Horton, being a Christian academic was not just doing Christian things at work (although that was part of it). Instead, it meant delighting in his whole work and recognizing how his work fits into God’s good creation and stewardship. His work is thus  to some degree, worship, and it is fitting that he bring the best of himself to worship. Being a Christian had implications not only for what he did but also why he did what he did. Thus he’d approach his work with wonder and with prayers for inspiration, not just for himself but for those around him, in the hopes that they could all do the best they could. All of this together was an expression of his love to/for others and God.

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