Amanda Boddeker (MACE, 2018)

Alumni Spotlight

On a dark, stormy November evening, Amanda Boddeker (MACE, 2018) burst into the dimly lit Knoxville café like a ray of sunshine breaking through the heavy clouds. Her countenance revealed her sincere care for distance education students, making time to meet with just one that evening before heading back to Dallas. She settled into the high-backed wooden barstool, ready for connection and conversation. Thoughtfully sipping Earl Grey from her steaming teacup, her eyes sparkled as her turn came to share her Dallas Theological Seminary journey.

Amanda directed the women’s ministry at Shepherd Church in Porter Ranch, California, when she noticed conversations around her turned to seminary and Dallas. She sensed God steering her toward seminary, but she was content in Southern California, where she was born and raised. She organized retreats for women and enjoyed her work. Thriving at the peak of her ministry, she thought, “God, why are you plucking me out at the top of my career?” As she prayed, obedience to God won. Logistics fell into place—her Dallas Theological Seminary admission application was approved, employment was established, and housing was haggled.

Working in the seminary’s internship department and then as an Admissions Counselor awakened a fire within her. In both roles, she saw gaps where students could better use their God-given giftedness. Amanda’s observations set the stage for her to pursue the idea of giftedness further.

In 2017, Amanda attended one of the early Giftedness Workshops created by Bill Hendricks at the Hendricks Center for Christian Leadership. According to the Hendricks Center, “When we use the term ‘giftedness,’ we are talking about a special phenomenon at the intersection of your abilities and motivation. When you can do what you love, your soul is fed by that work, and you can serve in a way only you can.”

Amanda’s work with internships and admissions fed the passion within her. The Giftedness Workshop solidified that passion, and she became a coach. She saw a clear thread woven throughout her experiences. Luke Bryant, Director of Admissions, said, “She understood her own strengths (giftedness) and used those in her role. In particular, she connected well with others. Amanda coached prospective students in their discernment process of how God has wired them for ministry.”

Amanda began her pursuit of a Doctorate in Educational Ministries at Dallas Theological Seminary in 2018. Her focus is mentoring, coaching, and discipleship through the lens of giftedness. What does it look like to mentor someone within their unique strengths? What does putting together a discipleship or coaching program look like based on someone’s natural ability and motivation?

Passion flows from Amanda’s eyes when she talks about her doctoral work, and that passion feels tangible and contagious when she hosts those workshops. Her face lights up. Her speech speeds up, matching the speed required to chase down a runaway train.

Coaching people in transition has been a constant theme in her work environments, whether transitions in systems or personnel. This discovery forces her to view her job choices differently; Amanda knows chaos ensues whenever she begins a new role. She thrives in this environment, leaning into her natural giftedness. Coaching people in transition through the workshops she leads brings her joy as they discover their unique giftings.

Creating a giftedness statement as part of each workshop transforms the strengths participants learn about themselves into something tangible. Amanda says she is a “Bridge Over Troubled Water—I help coach people in transition; I help people bridge the gap between the old and new.”

In 2021, Amanda made another job transition to work in Distance Education. She envisions offering workshops at extension sites to improve the seminary’s retainment. Dr. Mike Balbier, Dean of Distance Education, said, “By understanding the nuances of giftedness, she can better tailor educational approaches and resources to meet the diverse needs of these students. This knowledge allows her to develop more effective teaching strategies and support mechanisms, ensuring that distance learners receive a high-quality education that aligns with their individual strengths and abilities.”

Additionally, Luke Bryant shared, “Given her strengths, knowledge of giftedness, and ENFP personality, Amanda acts as the ‘glue’ between Distance Ed and Admissions. . .Amanda is the ‘flexy straw’ to an ever ‘flexy’ Distance Ed. Department.”

As Amanda finishes her dissertation, anticipating her May 2024 graduation date, her thoughts drift toward the future beyond her coursework—establishing a rhythm of workshops for new students or contributing to the Spiritual Formation curriculum, which intrigues her. She ponders starting a coaching business on the side as well. She loves her current job as the Distance Education director of Central Texas and Phoenix. She said, “If I have the freedom to incorporate giftedness training in some way, that would be perfect.”

Dallas Theological Seminary equipped Amanda to teach truth and love well by developing her passion for giftedness in herself and others. By connecting with mentors, professors, colleagues, and students, God has given her an extensive network to propel her forward into the work he has for her. Amanda concluded, “It’s been such a sweet, sweet crazy journey—so many crazy ups and downs. God has been faithful through it all.”

Erica Bengel is a MAMW student at Dallas Theological Seminary. Serving as a missionary for Ratio Christi College Prep, she is the high school Chapter Director for Blount County, Tennessee. Erica is a single parent raising two terrific middle schoolers in the foothills of the Smokies south of Knoxville, TN.