We’re picking up steam in our series of alumni interviews, From AC 2nd to… Today we turn the spotlight on Tim Krueger (’10), who is publications coordinator for Christians for Biblical Equality and edits CBE’s magazine, Mutuality.
Why did you decide to major in History?
I started at Bethel as a history major. Back to elementary school, I’d always loved social studies. Approaching college, I wanted to study either history or geography. I was more excited about Bethel and its history program than I was about going to a large state school with a geography program (plus I found out college-level geography involved a lot of math, which is not my favorite). And, I felt that God was calling me to go to Bethel, where there is no geography program, so that helped make my decision easier. So, I happily chose history and prepared myself for four years of relatives asking, “and what are you going to do with that?”
Do any particular memories of your time as a History major at Bethel stick out?
I think what sticks out most is being a TA for Dr. Rivera for a couple years. I spent a lot more time chatting with him and trying to soak in some of his knowledge and wisdom than I did actually grading papers. Being the shy and awkward person I am, I think that if it weren’t for the chance to TA, I wouldn’t have gotten to know any of my profs at all outside of the classroom. Getting to know the faculty a little bit more on a personal level really helped me grow spiritually and academically.
I have a lot of great memories from my classes as well, though. The first history class I took, second semester of my freshman year, was Latin American Civ, and Dr. Rivera gave those students with the best papers a chance to present. This was my first research paper of my college career, and I wanted to do my best, yet I lived in fear that if I did well, I might have to present to the class. Fortunately my fears were unfounded; I was simultaneously humbled and relieved to find that my paper wasn’t all that great, so I was saved from presenting. Other fond memories include singing “That’s the Wrong Way to Tickle Mary” in Gehrz’s WWI class, and hearing GW Carlson talk about most anything, but especially his occasional rant about how he was having to step up his game because of some up-and-coming new physics professor who was trying to challenge his title as Eccentric Tie Guy. And of course Dr. Cragg doing his “Hound of the Baskervilles” howl/bark every time he mentioned the curse of the Barcas in Roman Civ. I will also never forget the sadness on his face when a student blurted out the punchline to his joke about the Sadducees, which he’d been looking forward to telling for the entire semester.
On a more serious note, I really enjoyed reading the textbook for Latin American Civ, Born in Blood and Fire. I’m so glad this was my first text in my history studies, because it read almost like a novel, and encouraged me that maybe I, too, could talk and write about history in a way that was engaging, relevant, easy to understand, and still informative and accurate. My roommate, who was a computer science major, took that class and to this day says that that text was the most (possibly only) interesting history book he’s ever read. I was really impacted by two of the books we read for Modern Europe: Ordinary Men and The Dynamite Club. Both of them were rather depressing, really. But I think they really drove home the fact that the people of history could be any one of us. Whether we’re murdering people or saving them, we humans act out of similar hopes, fears, disappointments, and frustrations. Maybe more than anything else, this is what I took away from my history studies. I learned empathy for the “bad guys,” learned to assume profound humanity, not cravenness for all people, and learned that so very little in the world is black and white.
Did you graduate with a clear sense of what you wanted to do for a career? Any advice for soon-to-graduate History majors about how to approach the transition from college student to job-seeking college graduate?
I didn’t really have a clear sense of what I wanted to do. I’d hoped to go to grad school or seminary within a couple years of graduation, but I didn’t feel like I had a firm sense of why, or what I was interested in enough to study in great depth for years to come. I’m still not sure what the future will hold, since they say I should expect to change careers several times in my life. For now, though, I’m happy where I am, and it’s great to be actually making and saving money, rather than taking out more and more loans.
My advice for history majors is, if it’s not too late, get an internship, try getting some volunteer experience somewhere, and try to work rather than just going on to grad school by default. I’d also try to work a decent amount in school to minimize your loan debt. And most of all, be patient: listen to God’s leading.
Internships and volunteer experience really, really help you get jobs once you’re out of school. I worked some on campus when I was in college, and a little bit off campus, but I could’ve been a lot more disciplined. I had a pretty average amount of debt when I graduated, but if I’d been more motivated to work, I could have probably reduced that debt by probably 1/3. Having debt hanging over you just causes a lot of stress and pressure.
I also think that it’s a good idea to actually try to work for awhile after you graduate, unless you have a very clear idea of why you’re going to grad school — don’t just go on to more school because you don’t know what else to do. While history doesn’t necessarily lend itself to a specific career trajectory (unless you’re also in the education program, I suppose), it gives you skills that are great for any field. Being able to analyze and synthesize information, and then write or speak about it is useful no matter where you are.
Most of all, wait patiently for God’s leading, and be willing to do unexpected things in the meantime. I worked 2-4 part-time jobs for the first year after I graduated. Some were alright, and some I hated. It was frustrating, but in time I was led to my current job, which is about as close to my ideal job as I ever imagined could exist.
Tell us a bit about Christians for Biblical Equality and what you do with that organization.
CBE is an educational organization that advocates the position that the Bible, faithfully interpreted, calls for all Christians to serve in the church, home, and society according to their gifts and calling, without restrictions based on gender. In short, we’re evangelical egalitarians. We publish an academic journal and a magazine quarterly, we publish books on gender, the Bible, and theology, and we host annual conferences in the US and around the world. Our members come from hundreds of denominations and dozens of countries around the world, all committed to pursuing God’s ideal for Christian service in the world. I’ve been with CBE for almost two years now, and have had at least three different positions there, and I’ve only held my current position for around a month.
I’m the editor of our magazine, Mutuality, and I’m also the publications coordinator. As editor of Mutuality, I work with other staff to determine themes for future issues, then I solicit authors to write short articles about the intersection between Scripture, various relevant issues relating to gender, and the author’s lives. Some are personal reflections, some explore particular passages of the Bible, some analyze cultural trends in light of Scripture, some are book reviews, and most do some of each or are somewhere in between. I edit the articles that come in, work with a graphic designer to lay out the magazine, write the editor’s note, and coordinate the logistics of magazine production, from budgets to mailing lists to printing.
As publications coordinator, I am the in-office point person managing the logistics of our academic journal, Priscilla Papers (the editorial staff is composed of volunteers, most of whom teach at Gordon-Conwell). I also oversee other aspects of our publications, such as efforts to get journals into more libraries, digitizing our content, and creating special edition journals for conference or special mailings. I also serve as the primary “gatekeeper” for a lot of CBE’s publications and marketing, hopefully ensuring that they’re mistake-free and accurately represent the organization.
What connections (if any) do you see between your studies as a History major and the work you’re doing now as an editor and publications coordinator?
Most of what I do is either directly or indirectly relates to my history studies. In some cases, I deal with articles that are directly related to church history, usually the last 200 years of American history, the early church, or ancient Israel. I always enjoy these chances to learn and occasionally contribute a thing or two, gaining a better understanding of the world, and then finding ways to share this knowledge with people.
A lot of what I do is indirectly related, as well. I often tell people that I get to do most of the things I loved about school — reading, researching, analyzing, thinking, editing, and writing — but get paid for it. These are all skills that were developed in my time studying history. Finding articles, drawing out their best ideas, editing, and even researching options for content distribution all use these skills. Managing budgets is about the only thing I do that doesn’t really draw on my history background in some way.
How do you continue to feed your interest in learning more about history?
For starters, I make sure to watch the Reformation Polka every Reformation Sunday. (A bonus is that it helps me fit in better with my Lutheran in-laws.) And of course the Augustine Rap, Confessionz. Nothing is more inspiring than Kevin Cragg’s dance moves. I also randomly run into GW Carlson in various places around Saint Paul (including jury duty!), and knowing that any day I could be called upon to answer the question, “so what’s our distinguished young scholar reading this week?” keeps me on my toes, always trying to read not one, not two, but at least three books. I’ve never been a prolific or fast reader, so I still don’t read as much as a lot of people, but more than I ever used to. Because I work in the theological world, I try to read books, blogs, and articles that cover everything from history to theology to language and culture, modern and ancient. I’m always looking for ways to apply the history I’ve learned and what I’ve learned about the world through history to contemporary issues and discussions. I also do a lot of reading of articles for my job, so I am always learning or analyzing something. It’s been great that these things tie in with both my work and my interests.