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Faculty Mentor Spotlight: David Williams

October 9, 2023

 

 

We think relationships are an important aspect of education. That’s why we work with mentor teams, cohorts, and partner organizations. To help you get to know the people who are part of the Kairos community, we spotlight partners, faculty, alumni, students, staff, and board members from time to time. Today we are looking at one of our faculty

Name: David Williams

Location: Edmonton, AB, Canada

Role within Kairos: President of Taylor Seminary and Professor of Theology and Ethics, Kairos University

Education: Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies (Dallas Baptist), Master of Arts in New Testament Exegesis (Denver Seminary), Master of Arts in Philosophy of Religion (Denver Seminary), Master of Philosophy (Drew University), PhD (Drew University)

Teaching and Research Interests: The connection between theology, culture, and formation; educational philosophy

How to connect with David: dwilliams@kairos.edu

 

We asked David a few questions to learn a bit more about him. Here’s what we discovered.

Why are you engaged in the work of theological education?
I love to learn. I love theology.  In my early college years, I was invited into my pastor’s DMin project which centered around teaching theology to laypeople in our church.  I became part of his study and have been hooked ever since.  I couldn’t get enough reading, thinking, exploring, debating, and learning theology.  But I was quite confused and shocked that most of my friends and acquaintances were so uninterested in what I had experienced as so life changing.  For me, it was at the heart of our call as disciples. It was the rest of the “great commission” about which we were so adamant, the “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

That tension set my life on a journey both to better understand the problems that made theology so uninteresting for so many and to resource the church for the work Jesus called us to. That journey helped me see that the problems were much more complex than I imagined at first.  It also helped me see that they were deeper and more systemic than I ever could have imagined. Doing the work of theological education is at the center of God’s call on my life and though it has been painful at times, it has also brought unimaginable joy and fulfillment.

When you are teaching or working as a faculty mentor, what kinds of questions lead the way?
Much of my work is structured around Paul’s admonition in Romans 12:2 to “…don’t be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds…” The journey we are on is one of understanding where we stand, where we are going, and what God is doing in all of it.  So, it’s a journey of learning to see what God has done and is doing in our lives as well as in our communities around us and in the world at large.  Learning to see what God is doing is essential to coming alongside God’s work rather than getting out ahead of it, which is all too often our temptation.   But it’s more than seeing, it’s also listening. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks taught me that the first spiritual task of Israel is to listen: Listen o’ Israel the LORD our God, the LORD is one. Listening is at the core of our faith but is particularly hard these days as we all are well aware.

I get at all this with questions that call attention to what we see that others don’t, to what others see that we don’t.  And with questions about the stories that give our lives meaning and the stories that give meaning to those around us.  With questions about the practices we participate in that shape our lives, and the way our lives are shaped by practices of which we are vastly unaware.  All of this is a way of exploring what we see and what we hear so that we can be more faithful in what we say and what we do.

What rhythms do you like to follow?
If you are talking about daily personal rhythms, I generally rise early, do my morning scripture reading and prayers, and think through my day.  I try to do my focused work (reading, writing, thinking sort of things) in the mornings and keep meetings in the afternoons (but that seldom happens given the different time zones Kairos navigates).  I travel a bit so my rhythms with my church community are not as regular as I would like.  I tend to follow the church year in my devotional readings, which connects me to the larger community of faith but less so in our local church.  We are pretty engaged in the rhythms of our local neighborhood.

One unusual rhythm of life for the past couple of years has been my travel to Texas.  I lost my father three years ago and my mother needed to move out of our family home to live in Tennessee, where my siblings now live.  For the past three years, I have spent at least 2 months each year in Texas, allowing my mom to be in our family home for an extended period. Since the vast majority of my work isn’t location dependent, I am able to serve her in this way without being too disruptive of my work. I am blessed to have this flexibility and to spend this time with my mother.

When you are not teaching, mentoring, or engaged in some other aspect of your work with Kairos, where might we find you?
My wife (Jeanne) and I love the outdoors, working in our community, and exploring this beautiful place in which we are blessed to live. We also love to travel, sometimes to visit our grown sons and their wives.  Besides that, we love watching things together on Netflix and Prime Video.  When I am not working, I often can be found on a walk either with her or on my own.  In addition to that, quite a bit of my off-work time is taken by our new puppy, Sparkie.  She’s the 6-month-old black and brown “yorkie-poo” that invaded our lives three months ago!  The last time we had a puppy in the house, we also had a 12-year-old boy who could match the pup in energy and could do a vast amount of heavy lifting in raising a puppy. Thirteen years later, not only has our son moved out, but we are much older. Nevertheless, she brings great joy to our home.

We asked David to send us a candid picture of life outside of the classroom. Here’s what he shared with us:

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