This coming Thursday, I’ll be joining the faculty and my fellow staff members of the Focus Leadership Institute at our first all-alumni reunion. We have former students attending from nearly every class — back to 1995. Lee Strobel, of The Case for Christ fame, will be the keynote speaker. Various other people will be teaching breakout sessions (including yours truly). And local worship artist Danny Oertli will be providing the music. Plus, my younger sister, an alumna of the summer 2007 class, will be coming out for the occasion. All that to say, it’s going to be good times.
I attended the Institute back in the fall of 2005, after having graduated from Kansas State University the previous May. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I hadn’t attended the Institute. I don’t say that in primarily a sentimental way; rather, I mean that my time at FLI radically altered the direction of my life. I can’t now imagine a different trajectory.
During my sophomore year of college, when I began thinking of attending FLI, I imagined that my time at the Institute would be an appropriate capstone to my education at K-State. I figured it would be a good idea to finish out my 17 years of public education with one semester of Christian worldview training.
At some point during my junior year, though, I became disenchanted with apologetics and worldview and whatnot. Interestingly enough, my desire to attend the Focus Leadership Institute persisted. I can’t really explain it other than I wanted the sort of community experience I reckoned the Institute would provide.
The community was all that I hoped it would be. Alongside my classmates and the Institute staff, I was able to work through some significant personal issues — spiritual doubts, issues of identity and so on. And I think I was even able to give back to my fellow students a little too.
I’m glad I attended. I made some terrific friends. I learned a lot, theologically and practically, about marriage. I got to go camping, skiing and climb a pair of Fourteeners (the moniker we give to the 54 mountains here in Colorado that exceed 14,000 feet in elevation). My internship, with TrueU.org (Focus’ former worldview webzine for college students) turned into a job a mere nine months later.
And I did end up learning a fair amount about biblical worldview and apologetics. Interestingly enough, in the breakout session I’m teaching at the reunion this weekend I’ll be talking about an apologetic for our postmodern culture.
All this to say, if you’re between the ages of 19 and 26 and you’ve completed at least 45 hours of college credit, you should apply for the Focus Leadership Institute. If you haven’t already, check out the Institute’s website for more information. We’re still accepting applications for the upcoming fall semester, as well as next spring. (And if you like snow skiing, the spring semester is the time to attend.)
Here’s to seeing you as an alum at the next FLI reunion.