In the fall of 2006, I decided to quit farming. I knew that it would take a while, so I gave myself a year to get the farm dissolved. I also gave myself a year to find a job. About the same time, Teague was approached by Panhandle State about teaching finance and business classes. The current finance teacher was retiring in January.
I encouraged Teague to take the teaching job if she really wanted it, but she said that she couldn’t take the pay cut going from banker to professor. We both wanted to help the college out, so we started trying to think of someone that we could recommend to teach.
One night we were laying in bed thinking about who we could recommend, and all of a sudden Teague shouts out, “I know who can do it!”
I said, “Who”?
And Teague proceeded to tell me that I could do it, and in fact, she thought I would be much better at it that she would. I offered my objections, but she insisted that I could do it. She called Panhandle State the next day, and told them that she couldn’t do it, but that she wanted to recommend someone and that someone was me. The dean asked her to put me on the phone. We talked a while, and then she asked me to come to Panhandle State and visit about it.
When I got there, we talked about teaching, and lack of experience that I had. The dean also asked me if I would get my MBA, which I said that I would. She gave me the finance and economics textbooks and told me to take them home and take a look at them, think about it and get back to her.
Earlier in the year, Teague had given me a silent retreat at Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House in Dallas. It just so happened that it was scheduled for that weekend. I told the dean I was going on a retreat, and that I would pray about it.
I decided to take the textbooks on retreat with me, but I told myself that I would only look at them in the airport and on the airplane. While I was waiting on my flight, I pulled out the finance book, and randomly opened it. I opened to a page full of finance formulas. I almost threw up. I thought there was no way I could do this. After I got on the plane, I summoned up the courage to open the book again. This time I started at chapter one, and began to read. After I read the first chapter, I thought that maybe I could do it.
When I arrived at the airport, Teague had arranged for a car to pick me up. The driver took me to the retreat, and I had a blessed weekend. When it was time to come home, the same car and driver picked me up. She told me that I looked like a different person. I told her about quitting farming and that I thought I was going to begin teaching at the university. She looked at me in the rear view mirror and said, “I know you can do it”, that really surprised me.
When I got home, I wrote an email to the dean, and told her that I was willing to teach and that I would relearn or learn all that was in the textbooks and work as hard as I could and do as good a job as I could for the university and the students. I began teaching in January of 2007.
About midway through the first semester, one of my students came into my office and told me that many of the students in my finance class were going to go to the Vice President of Academic Affairs and ask to have me removed because I wasn’t qualified and was doing a bad job. I felt like I had grabbed an electric fence. I was hurt and shocked. I thought I had found my groove and was beginning to do a good job. My first impulse was to go to the class and just tell them off.
I was walking around campus praying the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary , and it occurred to me that if I thought Jesus was involved in bringing me to Panhandle State why would I not think that I would be persecuted. After thinking about it, I decided that I would try and treat my students like I thought Jesus would treat them. I would try and love them the best I could no matter what. So, I went into the class, and told them that I was willing to have after hours labs, help them in my office, and work as hard and they wanted to work to help them pass the class. After that, everything seemed to go better, and I survived my first semester.
It has been a blessing working at Oklahoma Panhandle State University, but there is a time and a season for everything. My season at OPSU ended yesterday.
What will I do now? I’m not sure. Teague has encouraged me to go on another retreat, so in a week I will be headed to Prayer Town Emanuel for retreat. I want to be open to whatever the Lord has in store for me, and wherever the Spirit leads me. Oh yea… I also need to remember suffering and persecution could also be involved.