Week 1

January 4, 2019

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It’s Friday. But, that’s not what this post is about.

It’s about inviting you to reflect back on the week and ask yourself four questions:

❶ What am I TRUSTING?
❷ For whom or what am I GRATEFUL?
❸ What is INSPIRING me?
❹ How am I practicing FAITH?

TGIF Week 1 Sara Thomas

It’s my hope to share with you each Friday. I expect my answers will be different each week. More importantly, as a coach, I’m doing this because I know the power of looking back to look ahead.

Your intentions matter.

Trust, gratitude, inspiration, and faith are essential to the leaders I work with every week. Instead of celebrating that the “work week” is over, with “Thank God It’s Friday,” I want to help you reset your weekly rhythm.

This is an invitation to reflect on where you are practicing trust, gratitude, and faith. It’s an opportunity to also consider what’s inspiring you this week.

As we consider these four topics, there is not a correct way to answer the questions. You’ll notice this week I don’t even answer the questions in order. Use the questions as a starting place. Answer each question. And make the questions your own.

Ready to get started?

Week 1 TGIF

This week, I can answer all four questions in the same way. And it’s the name of one person: Peter Magolda.

Peter was one of my professors at Miami University back in the mid-90s when I was working on a Master’s Degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education (We called it College Student Personnel back in the last century.)

I learned of Peter’s death this week.

My response to Peter’s death has surprised me. Each time I consider his death, I’m sad all over again. I guess I’m surprised at how much his passing has stayed with me because a significant amount of time has passed since we were on a college campus together.

I have not seen Peter since 2001 when I departed higher education to serve as a pastor in a local church. But, as you’ll see, great teachers stay with us for a lifetime.

Reflecting on the 24 years of life, work, and ministry since I first had the opportunity to be a student of Peter’s, here’s my TGIF  to Peter, in a little different order:


Peter Magolda INSPIRED me with his wit and wisdom and wicked sense of humor. Peter’s scholarship and writing were unique and remarkable. He lived life to the fullest…each and every minute. All these years later, I can still hear Peter’s voice and feel his presence. If you were in a room with Peter, you couldn’t help but experience his passion for students and teaching.


I am GRATEFUL for all Peter taught me.

Those words don’t seem sufficient to honor a great teacher. Probably because they are not sufficient. When I consider all the teachers I’ve experienced, (umm, I only have four degrees) I had three of the best professors, turned colleagues, anyone could ask for while studying at Miami University.

While my life and career did not stay connected to a college campus, there’s always been a special place in my life for college students. As I transitioned into ministry, I hosted college interns, created internship programs, mentor college students, and live in a community with a college at the center of it.

All of these things happened because I love what a university represents and I love college students.

Gratitude Multiplied

There is something remarkable about the college years in terms of growth and development. I learned that from Marcia Baxter Magolda. Yes, Peter and Marcia were married. Marcia taught me more about myself and human development than any one person should know. It continues to serve me wherever I lead. Marcia ingrained in me an ongoing practice of considering human development to help foster environments for learning and growth.

I confess over the past 24 years there are times I wanted to create “holding environments” that didn’t quite meet the developmental criteria Marcia helped me understand. Yes, I learned humor was a great learning tool while studying with this great husband and wife team.

Peter taught me to approach a college environment, and their sub-cultures, with the eyes, heart, and curiosity of an anthropologist. What he didn’t know is he engrained something deep in my soul that gives me a gift each time I enter a new environment.

When great teachers help you to learn how to see the symbols and rituals of people, to explore their importance and their meaning – it is like opening a treasure chest with hidden stories.


Because ultimately it’s about seeing the people who make up that culture – their beauty and their gifts – as they see themselves, not as I see them. When we have the opportunity to enter into the “world” of another human being, it is an unfolding story of grace.

As I talked with a colleague this week, I realized how much the student cultures courses I took with Peter have influenced my leadership in ministry settings. I only regret I never shared that with him.

Trusting and Faith

I am TRUSTING and practicing FAITH in the same way: this journey we call life is precious. Remind the people you love why they are important to you.


Your Turn

You’re invited on this journey, too.  As you reflect on this first week of January, how would you respond to the four questions above? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.