This year, we’re shining a spotlight on the fantastic OKWU professors who dedicate their lives to helping students achieve their callings.
Today we interview Dr. Jon Ensor, Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies in OKWU’s School of Ministry and Christian Thought. Ensor is a proud alumnus of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, receiving his B.A. in Biblical Studies in 2005. After years of teaching in secondary education and ministry in the local church, Ensor completed his master’s degree from Asbury Theological Seminary and recently completed his formal education by successfully defending his doctoral thesis at the London School of Theology.
How did you end up here as a professor at OKWU?
“The short story is that my long-time friend, Josh McNall, let me know a position opened here. I applied, went through the interview process, and somehow got the job. The longer version involves my time as a student here fondly remembered, falling in love with the classroom as a place for ministry, cutting my teeth as an instructor for over a decade at a wonderful school in Tulsa while working towards my terminal degree, and support from Asbury Church in Tulsa, especially Pastor Tom Harrison.”
What makes you passionate about the job?
“Life is a gift. Work is a gift. Many qualified people would like to do what I do, so I’m grateful, and I hope to bring a sense of joy and thankfulness into the classroom. More than passion, I think we have a sense of God entrusting us. Scholar-teachers are entrusted as gatekeepers of established knowledge. While we need to be dispassionate in our analysis, beneath that is a desire for and love of the truth. It’s not a stretch to say we live in an age marked by a ‘war against established knowledge’ (shout-out to author Tom Nichols), so the business of a scholar is, at present, deadly serious business. Concurrently, we are entrusted with God’s people. We want our students not only to know the truth about our subject matter, but we hope to equip them with the tools necessary to pursue the truth and spot lies long after the semester concludes. To hold in tension truth and love of our students is what the job is about.”
Do you have a favorite class to teach?
“Everything at the university remains new to me, so each class is exciting right now. I enjoy Introduction to Old Testament and New Testament, as the courses provide a chance to introduce freshmen to both the Scriptures and academic work at the university. But I enjoy upper-division classes for the opportunity both to engage in more challenging content and to get to know students in a smaller class.”
Favorite thing to do in your free time?
“I’m a homebody. I enjoy hanging out with my family outside, working in the garden, splitting wood, or sitting around a fire. I also enjoy going on trips with my family.”
What is it about OKWU that sets it apart?
“In an expression: holy love. In its Christian commitment, there is a tangible sense of embrace, welcome, hospitality. And in the same breath, there is a call to new life in Christ.”
When you teach, what’s the biggest thing you hope your students take away from one of your classes?
“Exactly what they pay for (I dedicate this answer to Dr. Wendell Weaver). By this, I don’t mean students are the customers and professors are the super-educated maître d’. Instead, each class is a contract, and my job is to deliver what is promised – which includes expertise, love of the subject matter, thorough preparation for each session, genuine care for students, and a model of professionalism, all explicitly as an expression of Christian worship and mission. Particularly, I get to lead students into the world of Scripture at an elementary or intermediate level. Like all courses, student and teacher stand before something that is not of our own making. But Scripture has a transformative power all its own. It’s a great job.”
What’s the best book you’ve read recently?
“Outside of academic works, I read Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography in the recent past. It was interesting on a few levels. Reading it in the same season as I watched documentaries of Michael Jordan and Lance Armstrong allowed me to observe some common denominators among hyper-successful people. It reaffirmed my desire to be unremarkable by those standards but a superstar at my house.”
What was your reaction to receiving both the Student Development Faculty Member of the Year Award AND the OKWU Promising Teacher award? You must be doing something right!
“My first reaction was surprise, thankfulness, and a touch of embarrassment. The latter is a longstanding problem in several settings. The truth is I have spent much of my first two years both in awe of my colleagues and dependent on them. When they share their work or perspectives, my normal response is, ‘Wow, I’ve never thought of that. Wish I could think that way.’ The students are the kind of people I look forward to joining each week. The difficulty of this year made it clear that they care for our well-being and the well-being of our loved ones. The truth is I have a long way to go, but I am thankful I work in such a supportive environment.”
If you could invite three biblical figures to a dinner party at your home, who would you choose and why?
“Well, the answer is tucked in the question. Jesus was known for throwing great dinner parties. Paul had some thoughts about how meals should go and was good for a dash of drama. I could also ask him to clarify some things, perhaps help with writing projects. The third would be some largely invisible figure, like Junia or Phoebe or Jephthah’s daughter or perhaps a member of ‘the weak’ in Corinth.”
What’s the best trip you’ve ever taken?
“When I graduated from high school, my brother and I flew standby to Europe and trekked from Scotland to Belgium to watch the European Soccer Championships (Euro 2000). It was an ordeal. We were not prepared. At the time, we did not think it was the ‘best trip ever,’ but it has grown into a great memory.”
If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, which movie would you choose?
Life is Beautiful. Everyone, or at least aspiring fathers, should watch it before they die.
What’s your least favorite household chore or task?
With young children, it’s any indoor chore. All are so futile because the little barbarians return each day to ransack the house. As they get older, I enjoy sharing those chores with them.