CU Faculty Helps Law Students Maintain Balanceby Eileen Scott, Senior Writer
Being a Harvard Law student is quite a challenge. Add being a spouse and parent, and you've got a balancing act to rival the Flying Wallendas. Some Harvard Law students with families are maintaining equilibrium by keeping their eyes on Christ and following the lead of Christian Union faculty at Harvard Law School.
Jim Garretson, Christian Union's ministry director at Harvard Law, and Jared Wortman, a ministry fellow, are husbands and fathers who model both professionalism and family life. Garretson, the father of five, is an ordained minister with a doctorate in homiletics from Westminster Seminary California. Wortman, a father to two preschoolers, holds a Master of Theological Studies from Duke Divinity School.
Garretson said personal example is critical in shaping future leaders. "We become like the people with whom we spend time," he explains. With students, he seeks to demonstrate the importance of self-discipline, stewardship of time, and the need to prioritize.
Garretson said Bible courses, prayer, and reflection upon the relationship between faith and the application of law are vitally important for students now and as they pursue their careers.
First-year law student Christopher Burkhalter has been married just over a year; he and his wife, Alicia, had their first child right before finals. The new parents found the spiritual and practical guidance from the Christian Union team to be instrumental in learning to balance a demanding study schedule with the responsibility of parenthood.
Burkhalter says the level of care within the Christian Union ministry goes beyond teaching. The faculty is involved in their lives, he said, and that produces a sense of family in an otherwise highly competitive and driven environment. "They give us a ton of support," said Burkhalter, noting that the Wortmans even shared baby items with them.
The Burkhalters have also come to appreciate the value the ministry fellows place on time management and emulating Christ. "It's the sacrifices you see them make to ensure they are being obedient [to God] and to help train others to be obedient," said Burkhalter.
Beyond family life, the Christian Union ministry fellows also encourage students to think about what it will be like to be attorneys who follow Christ. Garretson already sees spiritual and leadership maturity in Burkhalter, who plans to enter the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps after graduation.
Garretson says Burkhalter's love for God takes priority, and that gives him proper perspective on the goals and objectives he has for his life and the care of his family.
"Graced with a teachable and humble spirit, Chris models the servant-like outlook that must underlie those who would become leaders of others," Garretson said. "His combination of self-discipline and growing Christian maturity has enabled him to keep a good balance between family, church, and law school responsibilities."
Christian Union ministry fellows encourage students to handle their responsibilities with godly care and a servant-leader's heart, whether they are in the living room or the courtroom.
For Burkhalter, that means being attentive to each area of his life. He is able to focus on his studies and then switch gears to care for his wife and daughter with the same level of diligence.
"Keeping things in perspective keeps the anxiety down," said Burkhalter, who knows there are other priorities in life, including making time for morning reading, prayer, and reflection.
"It's easy to get caught up in the bubble of Harvard Law and think that it's your whole world. It's not about the rat race. It's about being faithful and a good steward of the opportunities God has given me and His call on my life."