Name: John Tuttle
Position: Director of Student Communications.
Education: John Brown University, BA in Biblical Studies; Talbot, MA in Philosophy of Religion & Ethics; Talbot, PhD in Educational Studies.
At Biola since: Fall 1986 (in various and sundry capacities)
Your StrengthsFinder top five? Input, Learner, Connectedness, Strategic, Intellection.
1. What do you do in your job (briefly)? I help provide well-managed technology that can truly be an aid to community and to sanctification. This involves overseeing and providing content for websites (including this one), digital signage, my.Biola, blogs, tweets, and other digital and print communication designed for current students.
2. Five most influential books:
Besides the Bible, of course...
Christ & Culture- Niebuhr;
The Best & The Brightest- Halberstam;
Divine Conspiracy- Willard;
Ragamuffin Gospel- Manning;
Screwtape Letters- Lewis.
3. Your best example of love? My JBU undergrad Bible professor, Jim Walters. Several years into their marriage, his wife Linda developed MS, and for 20 years now she has been confined to either a wheelchair or bed. He is honest that sometimes it’s tiring, but his commitment to her has never flagged, never waned, and he serves her out of love, not duty. This is a PDF link to their story (see pg. 16).
4. Why are you at Biola? Wow, I don’t have a short answer. So here’s a long one:
The more I read, whether it's USA Today or the New York Times best-seller list or a philosophy journal, the more I'm convinced that never before has our nation (and indeed, our world) been in greater need of what Christian Higher Education offers. The issues are not getting simpler, while the temptations to find a comfortable niche within the culture are more seductive than ever. But to be “wise as foxes but gentle as doves” is to refuse to be cannon fodder for either political party, or just-another-barcode for the machines of materialism. It is to see through The Facade to The Truth, and to gently, lovingly, help others lose the scales from their own eyes.
And there is nothing more exciting than sitting across from a student, whether in a classroom or at lunch, and talking and listening and watching their eyes and knowing that they're starting to get it! They start to see the why behind the what, the cause behind the effect, and that their faith is not a dry manifest inherited from their parents but instead is so alive and so real that it's almost beyond words... and beyond the black-and-white and the soundbite and the bumper sticker.
And so sharing our stories is at least as important as sharing our expertise. I believe that we at Biola, we in Student Development, are about students’ “critical commitments”—their willingness to take well-thought-through conclusions and live them courageously and consistently. I believe that the worst thing we could do is allow students to leave Biola with nothing except having their biases reinforced; I believe that growth is about challenge and support… and challenges are supposed to be uncomfortable.
And it’s not like it’s a one-way relationship; students show me God in places I never would have looked. We are in need of collective sanctification; we are better together than individually. But so many of them would rather be someone else, instead of the beloved person God made them. I pray that they will not “exchange love’s bright and fragile glow, for the glitter and the rouge.” See, I told you it was a long answer…
5. Your testimony (in 200 words or less): I was raised in a "nominally" Christian home. I grew up as the "good kid," doing well academically but socially/emotionally/spiritually adrift. When I was 20 or so, having dropped out of college and not really going anywhere, I actually began to wonder why I was bothering to resist my baser instincts and desires; why didn’t I just extinguish my guilt and do what felt good and just enjoy it? And so I did, and spent a couple years even deeper in the wilderness…
Then, I ran into a girl I had once dated, a Christian girl. I was still interested, and I figured it would be big brownie points if I invited myself to church with her. But as the weeks went by, there were Sundays when I felt like the pastor was talking just to me. I realized I was lost because I was on the outside looking in. The hounds were after me and wouldn’t let go, and during one Sunday's invitation (yep, it was a good Baptist church!), I was drawn to the front of that sanctuary as if pulled by a magnet. It was Thanksgiving weekend 1982, and I truly and publicly accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
6. If God put you completely in charge of creating Heaven, what would it be like?
Hmm, well, for sure there’d be regular concerts, with lots of Rich Mullins and R&B and Lost Dogs stuff, and daily baseball games with Vin Scully doing play-by-play. Lots of places to sit and eat with friends, with philly cheesesteaks and biscuits & gravy and chili rellenos and veal parmigiana. Lots of forests and rainforests and gardens, and my youngest son would never forgive me if it didn’t have lots of waterfalls and rainbows. And lots of extra room, for all the people we foolishly never expected to be there. But you know, He’s probably got all this covered already… and it’s gonna be a wild ride.
7. What is the most difficult choice you’ve ever had to make? The decision to stay at Biola after I finished my doctorate. What made it difficult? My wife and I had talked for years about where we would go after I was done; it never really occurred to us to stay. What factors helped you make that choice? Lots of talking and prayer, and taking an honest look at what we were looking for and what we already had. And we came to see what a rich life God had already built for us here if only we would inhabit it... despite all the time we were plotting to leave. John Lennon was no believer, but he had it right: “life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”
8. What are five things you are most thankful for in your life right now?
I have an amazing wife and three unique, weird, creative, terrific kids.
I have a job I truly love, which has been a long time coming.
I have opportunities to teach (part-time in Torrey), which is another answer to prayer.
That (after long last) I have some men in my life to share ministry/accountability/prayer-support.
That my family and I have health.
9. What job do you fantasize about having? Play-by-play for the Dodgers. I would have named my first son "Vin," but "Vin Tuttle" just doesn't flow at all.
10. Last book you read? Brothers Karamazov, Three Musketeers, Collected Poems & Prose of Robert Frost.
11. Brush with fame/celebrity? About 30 years ago, I took the train to the San Diego Comic Con with Tim Burton. Of course, he wasn't Tim Burton then, he was just a CalArts student and a friend of a friend. I also know Ivan Chung personally.
12. Which fictional character do you most resemble? Charlie Brown? Cordwainer Bird? Merkin Muffley? Or Major Major Major Major? It's so hard to say...
13. Who plays you in your bio-pic? Jemaine Clement. Or else Meatloaf.
14. What’s your ringtone? Green Day, "Jesus of Suburbia." No, really, call me.
15. Favorite electronic device? My laptop. Still learning how to make the most of my iPad.
16. What do your friends say is your best quality? There's two, probably: I listen well, and I can usually see the big picture amidst all the detail.
17. What natural talent do you wish you had? I wish I had more musical aptitude. Learning to play the piano is on my bucket list.
18. What is your life theme song? Jackson Browne, "Farther On." But I'm writing this in December, and December is a little melancholy for me. Come spring, it could be Springsteen's "No Surrender," or Rich Mullins, "Step by Step."
19. Do you believe in love at first sight? No. Attraction, infatuation, lust; those come at first sight. Love is commitment and work, but it's the best kind of work.
20. Do you think it is possible to live with no regrets? I guess some of this is semantics, but I don’t see how you can… ‘to live with’ doesn’t mean regrets dominate my life, but it does mean to never forget how I have fallen/do fall/will fall short, and how powerful and loving God’s grace is, to save me from my foolishness.
21. How much is your self-worth and identity determined by your job and your success at it? That’s a burden God’s helped me get rid of. I used to be driven by wanting to make a mark and rise to the top of my field. Now my drive is to be the best husband, the best father, the best Follower I can be… knowing that I’m going to fail sometimes at all three.
22. What is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen? Holding my newborn daughter, 30 seconds after birth. Good God, and I mean that…
23. In what areas of your life is it most difficult to trust God? I grew up with a view of God as a demanding taskmaster, who was gracious only as long as I didn’t screw up. Brennan Manning’s stuff helped me to see that isn’t accurate. So I’m only now learning to trust God in lots of things, because He deeply and inexplicably loves me, and it has nothing to do with my performance.
One of my favorite passages is in Luke 7, where Jesus is talking to the crowds about how people had rejected not only His message, but John the Baptist's as well. He says, "We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep." John's message was the dirge: repent, straighten up, judgment is coming. Jesus' message was the flute: rejoice, God loves you, come join the party. I know lots of Christians whose faith is all about the dirge, but I want to learn to dance.
24. What are the most important things you look for when choosing a church? Solid underlying theology; intense small-group emphasis; healthy balance between being and doing; welcoming to strangers and outsiders; focus on community service and social service; multi-ethnic if possible… that’s a really tall order. But I think it's most important to find a place where your gifts can be used, a place where you can serve, rather than looking for a place that can serve you.