Taking Time Apart

Spiritual Disciplines & the Academic Life

This guide, which may be downloaded below, is focused on spiritual formation and is the first in a series that will explicate the main components of InterVarsity's vision for faculty ministry. Spiritual formation is at the core of our discipleship to Christ. The practice of spiritual disciplines enriches our understanding of God, deepens our obedience, and increases our longing for God. "When we despair of gaining inner transformation through human powers of will and determination, we are open to a wonderful new realization: inner righteousness is a gift from God to be graciously received" (Foster, Richard. Celebration of Discipline.) This gift comes as we intentionally seek God's kingdom and his righteousness.

Many faculty members deeply desire to follow Christ in the academic world. While their daily practices and pressures may differ depending on the types of schools at which they serve, their fundamental spiritual needs are very much the same. The pressures placed upon faculty (either externally or self-imposed) often lead to a daily pace that crowds out time for the practice of spiritual disciplines. Our hope is that this guide will be a resource for taking time apart either daily or for a more extended time on a regular basis.

The guide begins with an essay on the Lordship of Christ over all things. The "Readings for Reflection" provide an opportunity to slow down and ponder a well-expressed thought about following Christ in daily life. The Bible studies take us into the Scriptures to get a greater glimpse of the Lordship of Christ. Consider reading the passages twice, and take time to write down your responses. We have also included a spiritual-discipline practice that focuses on seeking, reflecting, and giving thanks. We close with six prayers for the campus and a hymn. Consider using these disciplines with a colleague, student, or small group.

The good news is that as we respond to God's grace by seeking him through the practice of spiritual disciplines we begin to see him more fully. As this happens, our trust in his Lordship over all things increases, and we are better able to ponder his reign over the realm in which we move daily, the world of ideas.

May this guide beckon you to establish a regular rhythm of seeking and finding God. Please download it for your own use and share it with others.

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Nancy Thomas serves on the Faculty Ministry Leadership Team, with a particular focus on training staff, spiritual formation, and discipleship and also works with faculty at Union University, a Christian liberal arts university in West Tennessee. Over the past several years she has also served as the Associate Director of Faculty Development and occasional adjunct professor of political science at Union University.

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Nan received a Masters of Arts degree in American Politics from The Ohio State University. After working as a policy aid in the Ohio Governor’s Office for several years, she joined InterVarsity staff and developed a ministry to graduate students and faculty at OSU.

Tom Trevethan was one of InterVarsity’s most gifted Bible expositors and he authored the books The Beauty of God’s Holiness (InterVarsity Press) and Our Joyful Confidence: The Lordship of Jesus in Colossians (DILL Press). Tom earned an MA from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and served as a Campus Staff Minister at the University of Michigan for many years serving both students and faculty throughout his career. Tom most recently served on the InterVarsity Faculty Ministry Leadership Team as an Associate Director for Research and Publications, writing many resources for faculty and grad students and contributing to the Lamp Post faculty newsletters for several years (now Campus Calling). Tom retired in 2014 after 47 years of service with InterVarsity. He lived in Ann Arbor, MI with his wife Barbara, where they enjoyed many years of singing with their church and with the local Choral Union which won two Grammy Awards in 2005. Our hearts go out to Barb and their family upon learning of Tom's passing in October 2023. His voice, in both writing as well as singing, will be greatly missed.

In the GFM Resources, Tom's Bible study on Psalm 90 remains a wonderful resource for both students and staff. Tom's writings on the InterVarsity blog in 2014 include, On the Dangers of "Using" Scripture, part 1 and part 2. His research and thoughts on the InterVarsity Doctrinal Basis might have been shared with you during your Orientation to New Staff years ago. You can access the seven part series, Studying InterVarsity's Doctrinal Basis here. Tom worked with Nan Thomas on the Faculty Ministry booklet, Taking Time Apart.

We value the contribution of writers who are not employed by InterVarsity, some of whom may not necessarily agree with all aspects of InterVarsity's ministry, doctrine, or policies. These writings are the words of the writers and may or may not represent InterVarsity. The same is true of any comments which may be posted about any entries. Submitted comments may or may not be posted at the writer or the editor's discretion.