Give Grace

grace-the-gift-of-grace-web

Tom Matson wrote in his book, “UNFROZEN: A Father’s Reflections on a Brain Tumor Journey:”

Grace: a word and associated actions I’ve never been able to comprehend. I don’t think our minds can fully grasp grace. I know many people could define grace differently, but for me, I see it as receiving love when we don’t necessarily deserve it. It’s love when we least expect it, and it’s love when we have done nothing to receive it.

I use this word often in my work as a Vice President. Particularly when working in a sector of higher education where students struggle to make ends meet, get to class, eat, fit in, and support their families. A sector where employees show up to do their best, but don’t always get there, or who are constantly challenged by shrinking resources and battered by the tides of the changing sea that is higher education. All of this is compounded by the ugly realities that plague us as a society, including all the ism’s we hear about and experience daily. What I realize is still missing in so many places is grace.

If we could all just give a little more grace, and be more full of grace, then it makes life more bearable. As a Christian, I believe that grace and mercy sit at the core of the love that saves us. If it were not for these twins we would be lost. So I often wonder how I can give grace in my interactions, as I teach acceptance in the work I do. I call on my colleagues who are engaged in the oftentimes thankless and tough work of education to give each other grace as we struggle through this life. Sometimes its the only thing that we have left, and its the only thing that keeps us trying despite the difficulty.
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Rights and Responsibilities

RightsAs I meditated this morning I came across a scripture, 1 Corinthians 10:23 and 24 that reads,

“I have the right to do anything,” you say – but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything” – but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.(NIV)

In my daily work as a chief diversity/inclusion and senior student affairs officer at a public institution, the notion of rights and responsibilities is always on my mind. In our world, and in the United States in particular, we use our rights as a hammer and permission to do whatever we want. The debate about gun control, also relevant to college campuses, is one such example. The right to be be biased, or hate, is another. This scripture, Christian in its context but clearly applicable to us all regardless of our beliefs, states some obvious facts, “not everything is beneficial” and “not everything is constructive.” It applies standards to our rights, and asks us to ask if what I will do will add value to others, or should I do it just because I can. And notice these standards are not simply “good or bad,” those are too simplistic. Beneficial and constructive is the goal. I have the right to buy an AK-47, but is that beneficial (literally: favorable or advantageous; resulting in good.) I have the right to use most any names I want to refer to someone else, but is it constructive (literally: serving a useful purpose; tending to build up.)

As individuals we have rights, as a community we have responsibilities. The whole thing we call civilization falls apart if we don’t keep that in mind, and remind others to do the same.

Don’t Worry

I have this bit of advice to share for all you new graduates – and some of us older graduates too:

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
~Matthew 6:34 NIV

dont_worry-177931Whether you are particularly religious or not, whether you are Christian or not, my hope is that you can see the wisdom in those words. I’m actually practicing doing this more myself. In higher education, particularly leadership education within higher ed, we always implore people to be present. Part of the reason people are not present is because they are distracted. And many people are distracted not by technology but by their own worry and stress about tomorrow. This scripture reminds us of two important facts. One, tomorrow will worry about itself. And two, there are too many troubles to deal with today to be worrying about tomorrow.

So as you start off in your new careers, particularly in higher ed, remember that balance starts with realizing that for today, focus on dealing with today. Today really needs you. The students in front of you, the meeting you’re in, the program you’re planning. Those are problems for today. And as I always say to those in my workplace – that other stuff…that’s a tomorrow problem.

Dr. Anthony

Grace

I’ve commented a few times recently via social media how amazing critical colleagues are. These are people who will challenge you, call you out, help you grow and learn in very authentic ways. One such college, who works in Pennsylvania and co-facilitates with me at various leadership conferences across the country, engaged me in great reflection about the concept of Grace. He told me of his friend Tom Matson who wrote in his book, “UNFROZEN: A Father’s Reflections on a Brain Tumor Journey” who had this to say about grace:

Grace: a word and associated actions I’ve never been able to comprehend. I don’t think our minds can fully grasp grace. I know many people could define grace differently, but for me, I see it as receiving love when we don’t necessarily deserve it. It’s love when we least expect it, and it’s love when we have done nothing to receive it.

I use this word often in my work as a Chief Diversity Officer. What I realized was missing in my college, and indeed in all communities struggling with racism and other forms of oppression, is grace. As a Christian, grace and mercy, sit at the core of the love that saves our souls. If it were not for these twins, we would be lost. So I often wonder how I can give grace in my interactions, as I teach acceptance in the work I do. I call on my colleagues who are engaged in tough work around oppression, education, equity, and justice to give each other grace as we struggle through this life. Sometimes its the only thing that we have left, and its the only thing that keeps us trying despite the difficulty.
Dr. Anthony

Top Down Bigotry and Ignorance – #overit

David Williams assails Steve Beshear over participation in Hindu prayer ceremony | The Courier-Journal | courier-journal.com.

I don’t pretend to know everything about everything…well I kinda do, but I am willing to talk about why I believe what I believe. And I’m not so intellectually arrogant as to think that everything I say or think or believe is the “gospel” truth (forgive the pun). This story was pure disheartening, as I work everyday to try and build acceptance, positive dialogue, and compassion across differences. In one statement, David Williams has reminded me of why my work remains relevant. For those who don’t know reading this, David Williams is the President of the Kentucky State Senate, and currently the republican candidate for Governor of Kentucky.

Without giving the whole God is love argument, or Jesus said to love each other above all else argument (because many Christians already know that and don’t care about that part). Let me just ask a simple question to Mr. Williams and others who may align with his thinking…why? Why do you think its a good idea to publicly say something as off-putting as this? Why do you feel it necessary to offend a company, people, and religion that is bringing jobs and revenue to your state? Why did you feel this was appropriate in any context, as a public government official to say the things you said? Why are you so insecure in your faith that you can’t even allow someone else to be a part of a prayer service from a different faith?

I’m done being PC about calling out ignorance. I have no patience for this type of top down foolishness and pure insensitivity from our so called leaders. You are a small minded, inconsiderate, thoughtless individual who would benefit from thinking before he speaks. Is that fair to say about someone I don’t even know, not at all, but fairness or justice isn’t what motivated this post. It’s ignorance – so allow me to be ignorant too. You won’t make me embarrassed to be a Christian, you’re not big enough for that. But you make me disgusted to be affiliated with the Commonwealth that you represent. Gov. Beshear makes me proud. You will lose the gubernatorial race. Period. Your recent actions only prove how desperate and futile your efforts will ultimately be. I’ll ask my Hindu brothers and sisters to say a prayer of thanksgiving with my Christian brothers and sisters when you fall on election day. #overit.