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Facing The Giant — Tenure!

Hermanns, Melinda

doi: 10.1097/CNJ.0000000000000106
Department: Called to Teach

I allowed myself to be overcome with fear.

Melinda Hermanns, PhD, RN-BC, CNE, is an Assistant Professor at The University of Texas at Tyler College of Nursing.

Accepted by peer review 1/24/2014.

The author declares no conflict of interest.

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What is a giant? A giant is a term defined as “a person or thing of exceptional size, reputation” (The Free Dictionary, 2014). Giants are mentioned throughout the Bible with the first reference of Nephilim, a race of giants, in Genesis 6:4. One of the more familiar accounts of giants is the story of David and Goliath, which beautifully illustrates the concept of “facing the giant.” David, a young shepherd boy, was preparing to fight the Philistine giant, Goliath. David stated, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:37, NIV). David exemplified remarkable faith when he placed all of his trust in God as he triumphantly defeated Goliath with merely a sling and a stone.

Like David faced Goliath, I too faced a “giant.” My giant was the tenure process. Tenure is an academic process where an educator prepares a dossier of supporting documentation in the areas of teaching, research, and service as outlined by university guidelines for the purposes of permanence in a college or university. For me, it is the opportunity to continue to do what I love—teaching, research, and service! My hope is that by sharing crucial parts of the fight, you might find encouragement when you face a giant.

While writing statements and assimilating the required documents for the two dossier portfolios, I felt convicted...feeling I was being boastful. I shared my sentiments with a colleague who confronted me by saying that it isn't boastful; it is a professional duty we have reached in our academic career. Another colleague emphasized this is an opportunity to showcase what you have done and it is not arrogant if you are talking about what you have accomplished. After the two conversations and much prayer, I felt a sense of relief as if permission was given to me to showcase my professional accomplishments. This was what I needed to hear to continue my journey. After much diligent work, one night I began to experience writer's block, weakened wrists, and technological issues. I was sobbing, feeling stressed, and wanting to give up.

You see, I allowed myself to be overcome with fear. “So do not fear; for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10, NIV). I know God has not given us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). I had let myself get caught up in the world of anxiety, uncertainty, doubt, and questioning. In the quiet of the morning, I fervently prayed.

Although the task seemed overwhelming at times, I was confident God would see me through. As the sun rose, I felt a gentle peace and comfort. In the morning I read Psalm 143:8, “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you” (NIV). It was during this time God revealed his presence to me. My spirit was quickened. As a result, I was comforted by his words, “For I know the plans for you declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Throughout my journey, I have remained in prayer. I know I can rest in the assurance found in Scripture, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20, NIV).

Although I do not know the outcome of my tenure application, God does. His Word states, “We live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7, NIV). I am humbled by the process and consider it an honor to have reached this point in my academic career. My prayer is my testimony may help others who are facing a “giant.” Stay encouraged!

The Free Dictionary. (2014). Giant. Retrieved from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/giant
© 2014 by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship