How My Education Enriches Everything

When I was attending community college, the question loomed: What will I choose as a major? For the time being, I was safe under the wide umbrella of Liberal Studies where I had the freedom to dabble wherever my interest would lead me.[1] But, inevitably, I had to transfer. I had to choose a school and a major. As I mulled over the decision, two things became clear: I knew I wanted to attend Azusa Pacific University (APU) and I knew I wanted to work with youth. I was trying to decide whether I wanted to be a music teacher or a youth minister when I began to see things in a new light.[2] What if I wasn’t really going to school to land one specific kind of job? Wasn’t it true, as I had recently read, that I would change careers several times over my lifetime? What if I really needed training that I could use in music, ministry or education more than a degree in one of the three? This new shift in my thinking allowed me to consider other options.

I ended up attending APU as a Communication Studies major with an emphasis in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication and cognate in Religion and Culture. It was great! I was learning all sorts of practical stuff: psychology, persuasion, presentation, publication, and public relations (and that’s just the P’s). And the theoretical stuff was really fun too. One theme that kept emerging throughout my studies was the shift in our culture to postmodernism, which boils down to this: since there is no truth, we are free to make up our own stories, yet not free to impose our story on anyone else. In this view, reality is not something to be discovered and known, but to be created and promulgated. Truth, goodness, beauty, morality—it is all relative. There is no “right” only what is “right for me.” But none of this seemed right to me. In fact, the prevalence of postmodernism in our society, indeed, its very existence, demanded a response. I had to defend truth.

J. P. Moreland

At APU, there is what is called a Common Day of Learning when classes are suspended and a series of seminars given across campus on a common theme. One of my professors encouraged us to check out J. P. Moreland’s talk on “Loving God With All Your Mind” (he may have offered some sort of extra credit). Thank God he did! I don’t think I had ever taken so many notes in my life! Moreland re-affirmed for me the importance of truth and the life of the mind for the Christian in the midst of our current cultural crisis. I bought his book and it has colored my life and education ever since. It is not that I was not already engaged in worship through scholarship. But Moreland specifically planted the seed of apologetics in my soul, and it was beginning to grow.[3]

After college, I started hearing about the Defending the Faith Lecture Series put on by Biola University’s Christian Apologetics program and for which Moreland regularly taught. I signed up and, eventually, completed three lecture series. That meant that I had 6 units I could apply toward a master’s degree if I enrolled in the program. So I did. And people asked, “Why?” What is apologetics? What kind of job could I get with a degree in apologetics? I would reply that I was taking it for personal enrichment, which was true. But by enriching myself, I have succeeded in enriching everything else!

When I was a young adult pastor, I was able to directly apply and share what I had learned. The topics we would cover had more substance. The Bible studies I led had more depth. My overall philosophy of ministry was more principled.

My marriage has been enhanced by my education as well. I have a sound theology and a solid biblical foundation from which to lead and nurture our union.

Now that I am a dad, I cannot imagine not having the education I have had. It informs almost every aspect of my parenting, from understanding how various cultural influences may affect my kids’ hearts and shape their worldview, to having a clearer vision of the kind of adults I want them to become as a result of our rearing: not simply happy, but happy as a result of having character, wisdom, compassion and walking closely with the Lord. And it is truly empowering to know that any education they receive at church or at school is supplemental to what we are teaching them at home and not the other way around.

In short, the classes I have taken have served not only to enrich my own soul but also to enrich my family and ministry, and make my life a deeper well from which to enrich others.

 


[1] My interests have always included studying the Bible and theology. But classes like that were not offered at my small, public, community college. So, I took classes through ICSI on the side.

[2] I did end up teaching junior high at a Christian school for a couple of years (English and History, not music), then joining the ministry staff at my church (young adults, not youth).

[3] Speaking of the soul, Moreland’s work was also helpful in my own research as a communication scholar at the time as I sought to explore the relationship between communication and the soul.

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