Hidden Teachers

On occasions, the greatest teachers are often overlooked. They are out there ready to teach us, but for some poor learners, like me, they are somehow hidden from our sight. These dynamic “hidden teachers” are named adversity and affliction.

Why is it that so often our greatest learning moments come in pain, despair, trouble, disappointment and hardship?

Why is it that I am I so sure of myself I don’t seem to learn until the teachers of adversity and affliction take over the class?

Dang it, I wish we sat in the front row during prosperity and affluence, but that is NOT the way we are made. We love to be self-reliant, and when things go well, we don’t seem to attend class at all. I guess we hope one of the smart ones attend class and takes good notes.

“How gracious He will be when you cry for help. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more, with your own eyes you will see them.” Isaiah 30:19

In order to be sustained physically we need bread and water; so too, in order to learn, accept the good bread of adversity and the sustaining water of affliction.



We had a great retreat this past weekend with our Board of Directors and Foundation at Trinity.

The Board and Foundation gathered in La Conner for a two-day retreat to strengthen our college, strengthen relationships with one another and imagine the future for the college. We had inspiring conversations, we listened, we prayed and we laughed.

Throughout the weekend, I was struck by the power that can be generated with a group of talented people who volunteer around a central purpose. Volunteers are powerful people. They have simple motivation, they aren’t paid for their involvement, and they are not responsible for the results. So their time and efforts are pure: they participate to further the purpose, to support the mission and to guide the efforts of others in a way to achieve the state objectives.

Some volunteers just show up, put in their time, meet the obligations of the organization and walk away not thinking much about it until the next obligation.

But effective volunteers are devoted! The mission and purpose is so clear and the work is so directed in achieving agreed-upon goals that effective volunteers can’t put it down—they can’t stop thinking about it. Devoted volunteers have passion and use their creative energy to make a contribution in a variety of ways.

Our retreat last weekend lead by board chair Rev. Kevin Bates was inspiring and real. I am sure it will result in an even more devoted group of volunteers for the college. I want to thank all who participated and make sure they know how their devotion to Trinity Lutheran College inspires me everyday!


I love our students!

I love our students!

This past week, I went from booth to booth listening to our students describe and promote their student clubs and organizations as part of our Student Activity Club Fair.

Sixteen organizations were present, ranging from Fellowship of Christian Athletes to the Culinary Club to the Black Student Union. I volunteered to teach the fine sport of golf to the Nobilioris (an organization founded to assemble individuals who beg the exploration of what is noble), and I believe I am now signed up to attend the student-led spring break mission trip to the Dominican Republic. I can’t wait to see the robotic work of the IT Crowd, a club that focuses on technology-related affairs and developing future IT leaders. I also know the Creation Care Club is busy improving our awareness and practice of environmental stewardship at the college.

Our students are smart, winsome, ambitious servants who love to explore, grow and learn. I am so grateful they have chosen to study and learn here at Trinity.

You should come by the commons, enjoy a lunch prepared by our Chef Deb and meet some of these amazing people.


2015 Strategic Plan

A couple weeks ago we hosted our first meeting of the steering committee that will be overseeing the 2015-2020 Strategic Plan for the college.

This is a very important time in the life of Trinity Lutheran College, and the work of this leadership team is critically important. I will keep you posted on this blog about the work we are doing, and we’ll also be hosting information sessions this for the Everett community, our alumni and friends, and our faculty, staff and students.

I want to share with you the beautiful way that we started our first meeting. I knew we needed to begin our work with prayer, and I invited Sue Houglum, Professor & Chair of Early Childhood Education, to pray for the college, particularly focusing on our past. She led us in a moving prayer for our heritage and traditions and for the people who have done so much to help us arrive at this moment.

Then Lance Georgeson, Associate Director of Development, prayed for our present—our life work and our mission, students, faculty and staff—and for the number of friends and volunteers who contribute to this life-changing place.

Finally, Reverend Kevin Bates, the chair of our board of directors, prayed for the future. He prayed that Trinity would continue to transform lives, help students and staff pursue excellence and be a place where many people are touched by the work God is doing among us.

God truly continues to in our midst here at Trinity, giving us strength and wisdom in the work we do. That night, the opening prayer of our strategic planning meeting was the highlight of the evening for me. I was energized to work even hard toward the future of the college and was so pleased with the outcome of our time together that evening.


Positive Messages

Every day, my phone buzzes each time I receive a new email or text message. On some days the messages I receive present new challenges or complex decisions that are occasionally stressful. I’ll admit to you that I need to do a better job putting away my phone when I’m ready to retire for the evening.

But I have to tell you about two messages I received this week that each brought a warm smile to my face.

On Tuesday, a colleague of mine from Washington State University wrote to tell me that she was attending the State of Washington High School Counselor breakfast. Over 100 school counselors were in attendance that morning. She said she was listening to our recruiter, Trinity senior Christian Paige, talk about the college. She was very impressed both with Christian and with Trinity.

Then yesterday my phone buzzed again and it was an email from our Director of Admissions. She told me we had 15 students and a counselor visiting campus from Glacier Peak High School in Snohomish, and after giving the students a presentation about the college, the counselor said this:

“I’m not sure who is doing your marketing at Trinity, but I just wanted to say that you guys are rockin’ it and doing a really good job. Whatever you are doing is working—we have a lot of students who are interested in Trinity! ”

The counselor went on to say that she thought Trinity should be on their high school campus at least once a month to talk with prospective students, as she foresees more interest from their students as the year progresses.

I will put up with the stressful and complex messages that buzz into my life, just knowing these moments are happening for Trinity. I hope you celebrate them along with me.


Snohomish County Sports Hall of Fame Banquet

It was a grand evening at the Infinity Arena in downtown Everett last Wednesday night at the fifth annual Snohomish County Sports Hall of Fame Banquet. The Everett community has a real love of athletics and sports, and it was evident by the big crowd who attended the event.

I had the honor to offer the invocation for the evening, and I felt like a proud father as Janell Alyea, a senior at the college and a thrower on the track and field team, accepted her award for Female Collegiate Athlete of the Year.

Janell is an amazing young woman with a bright smile and a zest for life that is contagious.

Thank you Janell for representing the college by pursuing excellence in your sport. We are proud of you.


We are different

We are different!

We differ in many ways. We are different races and come from different cultural backgrounds. Some of us grew up in big cities and some are from small towns. Some live with a mom and dad and some don’t. Some earn A’s while others earn B’s or C’s. Some pray a lot and some pray just a little.

When all these differences are brought together in a learning community, something special begins to take shape. At Trinity, we see and experience our diverse culture as a true gift. We have the opportunity to learn about one another and share of ourselves. Appreciation of another perspective is a sign of maturity and wisdom. Our student-learning environment allows this to happen daily.

I believe there are three dimensions to our unique and diverse learning environment at Trinity Lutheran College:

  1. We are truly diverse. Students of color make up 45% of our community and Caucasian students make up 55%. Our students come from every major racial ethnic group and from 10 countries. They come from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds, and while some grew up in a city or suburb, others grew up in a more rural setting.
  2. Our small intimate size is the perfect environment to truly get to know people, gain insight from their world, listen to their perspective and learn from their life experience. Our students often say their voices are “truly heard” at Trinity.
  3. Lastly, our community welcomes differences and values each person for who they are. People are attracted to the college because of our diverse environment. This makes for a unique community.

One dimension about Trinity’s diversity is our diversity of faith. This wonderful mosaic of belief is alive and well in this wonderful place. Yet even with individuals from various faith and non-faith backgrounds studying at the college, we remain committed to our Christian core: students learn about Jesus, they study the Bible, they engage in service to our community and they pray. As a campus community, we remain steadfast in our mission to teach and train leaders to serve Christ and society.

If you haven’t been to Trinity in a while, come visit us. Stop by, take a campus tour and stay for lunch (I’m buying!). I believe our diverse community will impact you in ways you can’t even begin to imagine.

In Christ,

John W. Reed


As we begin a new year

Greetings Trinity Followers!

I thought it would be a good time to update my blog. Nine months since my last post is not a good thing. But as you can imagine, I have been busy with a few things in those nine months. So let me take a minute to update you on them.

We are so pleased to report our success in student enrollment. This fall we have exceeded 200 students and have grown by nearly 17%.  We need to keep improving our enrollment situation, so please keep referring us to prospective students, “talking up” all the college’s strengths. Here is our recent press release on the fall enrollment, http://tlc.edu/news/enrollment_growth_for_fall_2013.html.

As pleased as I am with the growth of our student enrollment, I am even more excited about the development of our students. Erik Samuelson, Campus Pastor and Director of Spiritual and Vocational Formation, has done an incredible job leading our Vocation and Formation classes, required for all incoming first year students. Recently I reviewed the yearly evaluation from our students in this course, and these two comments were especially insightful:

  •  “The Lavik Lecture was probably the most meaningful activity to me. I am still thinking about what was learned there.”
  • The book Let Your Life Speak was very meaningful, because it helped identify my strengths and weaknesses in my vocation.

At Trinity, we are serious about helping students find their God-directed purpose in their life and career.  I am grateful to our Vocation & Formation faculty for leading this important course.

You also may remember that in 2010 we launched a three-year strategic plan entitled “Light on the Hill.” I am thankful for what we have accomplished toward our strategic goals to date, and I’d like to provide you with a brief overview of our progress to date. Please follow this link to read about our progress and challenges.

As we begin a new year at Trinity, filled with gratitude for so many gifts in our midst, we also give thanks for the gift of so many faithful alumni, donors, parents and friends. I want to thank each of your for praying for all of us at Trinity Lutheran College. Your support is so important in the work that we do.

My best,

John W. Reed


Viewpoints with Terry Bradshaw features Trinity Lutheran College

Great things continue to happen here at Trinity. Just this week, we received the final copy of a segment of the television show “Viewpoints with Terry Bradshaw” that features Trinity as an innovative, faith-based college.

The segment will air on several regional and national markets in the coming months. We are excited for the opportunity to share our successes with innovation, knowing viewers all across the country will soon be acquainted with our little college here in Everett.

I hope you will take a few minutes to watch the video for yourself:



It is common to hear organizations, colleges, and churches talk about “community.” This word is meant to describe the way in which a group of people work or live together. For the most part, the word “community” is meant in a positive fashion, like “we have a wonderful community” or “we are pleased you will be joining our community.”

However if you examine the term more closely, you will find at its most basic meaning that it simply describes a group of people who share a “common characteristic.” That’s not a very compelling description, if you ask me.

Often when I interact with groups that talk about “community,” what I find is actually mistrust, lack of communication, and separate units positioning for power. Whatever implied warmth or connectedness the word “community” suggests is missing altogether and in its place a kind of jockeying for position and a bitter competition that breaks down whatever community might have been there.

I recently heard a definition of community that I really like, however, and I quickly thought of Trinity: “A group of people living and working together who practice common ownership.”

This word “ownership” is compelling to me. Owners care for one another, their purpose is unified, and they focus on each other rather than on themselves, which is perhaps the most important attribute of this definition. As Christians, we are called to imitate Christ’s humility, although this often goes against what our society is pushing us towards. We live in a culture where we must face false idols, competition, and stars that shine for a moment and then fade away.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul writes, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others” (Phil 2:3-4).

Imagine how our community changes when Paul’s charge above becomes our primary goal. As Christians, we are called to imitate Christ, and if we study his words and actions in the gospels, we soon understand that one of Christ’s greatest attributes was humility. Putting others before ourselves changes our community at a fundamental level: we become advocates for each other, supporters and cheerleaders, and each of us feels the support of the others behind us.

At Trinity, this kind of imitation of Christ is at the core of our identity. Not that we do it perfectly all the time, for we are human beings struggling to imitate God. But I am so grateful for the community that is Trinity Lutheran College—students, faculty, staff, board—and the ways in which we together act as owners of our college, making Trinity the wonderful place that it is.

And as a college, we are also grateful for the many alumni, supporters and friends who join in our common goal to imitate Christ. Anyone who cares about this place and joins us in our mission becomes part of our community.

May we all continue to strive toward humility in being more like Christ—so we can “shine like stars in the sky” (Phil 2:14) as we hold firmly to God’s word and truth as it lives among us.