The Peace of God, the Joy of Teaching

We are teaching in tough times. In our state, many of the schools in our university system are still reeling from the budget decreases that accompanied enrollment drops during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

My university, one with a Predominantly Black Institution (PBI) designation, was hit especially hard, suffering a 17% decline in enrollment.

As you can imagine, such a deep decline in students (and subsequently enrollment dollars) significantly impacted our campus. Add to that “The Great Resignation,” our senior ranking colleagues here and across the country resigning in large numbers, and it’s easy to understand the critical situation we’re sent to work in every day.

Increasingly Nervous

I’d describe the atmosphere within my campus as increasingly nervous. Professors are wondering whether their jobs are in jeopardy. Department chairs wonder if they will be able to offer the supporting services they’ve come to rely on—the writing centers, tutoring services, and visiting scholar initiatives.

As the research of our colleagues in mental health has underscored, students have already been suffering from increased levels of anxiety. In the past year, I’ve had a student ask me twice whether our school is in danger of closing or consolidating with another university.

With the increased tension in the atmosphere, I have needed to meditate on the Lord in more concentrated ways to prevent my own disposition from also becoming nervous.

Circling In My Mind

Two of the scriptures repeatedly circling my mind have been “Cast your cares upon him, for he cares for you” (I Peter 5:7) and “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7).  

The resulting peace I have has enabled me to find joy in basic things, especially in working with students.

I was invited to team-teach in an honors Humanities seminar last spring. The smaller class size led to deeper interaction with students. In the same semester, in a graduate class I taught, two students presented their research at our end-of-semester academic conference. I always feel invigorated when my students take that next step to share their work at academic conferences. It connects what we do in the classroom to a broader conversation with others.

Joy and Peace

The teaching opportunities brought me joy. They were a simple reminder that I am where God has me. Instead of being worried about job security during this tense semester, I found peace by continuing the daily routines that still my mind; a morning quiet time and meeting together with other believers are two of the most important.

Those habits remind me that whatever condition I’m in, He’s with me. His presence has brought me peace.

Cantice Greene


Clayton State University

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