Overcoming Uncertainty

For several years before I retired as a professor and extension entomologist at Oklahoma State University, I was involved with the Faculty Commons ministry. As retirement approached, I believed God was calling me to become more active as a retiree and support the local faculty ministry in campus activities such as welcoming new OSU faculty, leading Bible study groups, and sharing the gospel.

When I let the leaders of the faculty ministry know that I wanted to volunteer, my greatest fear came into being: they enthusiastically accepted my offer!

After throwing my hat into the ring, I started feeling insecure about it. I had to ask myself, “Why am I so anxious?”

I have never been anxious as an academic. My academic life involved delivering education to and teaching adult audiences of all kinds—students, farmers, agricultural suppliers, extension educators, politicians, and professional peers. I have always been confident about that, based on my extensive scholarly background in pursuing my master’s and Ph.D., which I nourished throughout my professional career by continuing to be a lifelong student.

I think my anxiety stemmed from two sources:  First, my early religious experience encouraged me to keep my faith private and personal. Second, I didn’t feel qualified to be in a place of spiritual leadership. I didn’t have the intensive study and training I had in my professional career. I was afraid I’d be embarrassed by the question of a skeptic or even that of a well-meaning believer. The imposter syndrome isn’t just a thing for students and faculty; it is a thing for Christian workers, too.

But recently, as I began diligently digging into the scriptures, it’s become apparent that God wants me to become an extension agent regarding my faith. To keep secret how Jesus took away my sins and gave me new life would be even worse than keeping secret from farmers how to keep insects out of their crops. 

Far from keeping my faith private, I need to share it with as many faculty and students as possible.

Also, regarding the need for more professional training, I realized that I do not need to be able to explain the mystery of the Trinity or have irrefutable arguments regarding the problem of evil to be effective as a minister of the gospel on campus.

I know and believe in the gospel as outlined in John 3:16. I wish to follow the Great Commission as instructed by Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20. I’m constantly getting guidance and ministry resources from Faculty Commons staff member Jim Kessler and fellow faculty emeritus Dr. Dave Engle.

As I continue to nourish my faith as prescribed in 2 Peter 3:18 and rely on the Holy Spirit to guide me as in John 14:26, I know that God is able to use even me in His grander story as I volunteer as a retiree at Oklahoma State University.

Tom A. Royer

Extension Entomologist

Oklahoma State University

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