I will never forget the day. Becky and I had been living in Basel while I was working on my doctorate. I'd just completed my M.Div. at Talbot, having written a thesis on the destination of the Ephesian epistle (= was Ephesians an encyclical letter intended for several churches, or did Paul send it specifically to the church in Ephesus?). Afterwards Harry Sturz, the head of Biola's Greek Department, suggested that I publish the results of my research. "Where should I send it?" I inquired. "Why not try the Grace Theological Journal?" was his response.
Now living in Basel, I remember receiving the offprints of my first published article. Let me tell you, nothing prepares you for seeing -- against all odds -- the fruit of your scholarly labor in print with your name on it.
And so began a lifetime of research and writing.
You will be surprised at how fast the years race by, like that scene in an old movie of calendar pages flipping forward. Today, as I look back over my career, I have no greater joy than when I see one of my doctoral student's name in print, be it in a book review, a journal article, or their first book. My philosophy was always, "If it's good enough for you to write, it's good enough for others to read." That sentiment wasn't shared by all of my colleagues, of course. "Ph.D. students shouldn't be publishing anything. They have just begun to learn their craft," I would hear. True enough. Still, I always encouraged my doctoral students to publish what they could while they were still students. Let the journal editor decide if the author is mature enough to have his or her work published.
As I think back on that day in Basel when I received my first journal article in the mail, I think of the euphoria that was associated with it. I'm reminded that I'm still on a journey of discovering who I am and what God wants to do in and through me in this life. For any fledgling teachers who might be reading my blog today, you are on a journey like you cannot imagine. Mind you, it will take a lot of hard work. But don't expect others to see the scholar in you unless you see it in yourself first. I am here to tell you: Your best life is still ahead. I know now more than ever that if God has called you to a life of scholarship, he will enable you to be faithful to your calling wherever he plants you.
Go ahead. Take a risk. You wrote it. Now let others read it.
P. S. My article on Ephesians is here in case you need a sleep aid tonight.