Don’t be afraid to step up!

Have you ever felt like you were running from or avoiding something, but you weren’t sure why?  Ever been afraid of the “unknown”?  How often do we fear failure?   Life is so busy and filled with so many activities, sometimes it is difficult to slow down and listen to that “still small voice” or truly hear what the Lord may be trying to tell us.  Perhaps, maybe we just have selective hearing because we want to do what we think is best or what pleases us?

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

The Lord tells us in His word, that he has plans for every one of us…So many times, we are so busy making plans of our own we forget we are not the ones in control.  Being mindful of whose we are and what we are called to do is the first step… then we must listen to what God is calling us to do and step up!

The story of Jonah comes to mind, when thinking about stepping up to God’s commission… Jonah’s story depicts how God truly is in control and is in command of everything to carry out His plan.  If we acknowledge God as having full reign in our lives, He will use us in ways we cannot fathom.  There may be times when God is calling us to lead and we are fearful of failure…but with God’s direction and blessing, we cannot fail.  We can do all things through Christ … and to Him we can give all the Glory!

Jonah 17:9 But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good.  I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”

God knows our talents and abilities better than we know them, ourselves… and He has the master plan.  Resting in Him and stepping out in faith in every aspect of our lives and seeking what it is He calls us to do, requires faithfulness and results in a peace He can only give us.  Our heavenly father knows what is best for His Children before we even figure it out…and being aware of God’s purpose in our lives by staying in consistent communion with Him, allows us the opportunity to truly discover our heart’s desire.

Through personal experience, I can tell you that God can change the desire of our hearts.  He has the ability to change our hearts and put a desire there when it’s necessary to carry out His plan. It is then, when we follow His will for our lives, and obey, that we will experience true peace and happiness and ultimately He will be able to use us to help change lives.

Psalm 37: 4 -5: Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. 5Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.

So, if the Lord is calling us into leadership, we must have no fear!  We must listen and faithfully step up!

Defining Success

Defining Success

What does success really look like?

We are obsessed with the trappings of success: Fancy cars, large homes, expensive jewelry, fashionable clothes. We are drawn to the beautiful, the intelligent, the well put-together.

Adult learners often restart their college careers with a mental image of success that includes worldly possessions. After all, if one devotes so much time, energy, and money to pursuing a dream, shouldn’t one enjoy the trappings of success? Most of us would say “Yes!”

But a college education is, well, different. Unlike sports cars and designer clothing and an impressive body mass index, an education is simply something that automatically follows from a transactional investment. Anyone with the right amount of money can buy fancy things. Anyone with the right amount of time can exercise enough to have a healthy looking body. But academic success is not measured like that.

There are some adult learners who measure academic success by the number of “A’s” they see on a transcript. While such high marks are laudable, they do not necessarily guarantee that an education has been earned.

In my life, I have often learned the most from classes (and endeavors) that I messed up royally! While I usually made good grades in school, upon reflection I see that I learned the most in classes that I struggled with. You know, those classes that pushed every button, those classes that made me question my intelligence. Those classes in which I HATED the work, HATED the subject, and sometimes was tempted to blame the instructor for “not giving clear instructions.”

I didn’t always make A’s in those classes. But, boy, did I ever learn things!

I learned about myself. I learned about my work ethic. I learned about my lack of understanding about a lot of things. And I learned that less than an “A” is not the end of the world.

A college education should be measured by how much it transforms the individual, not just by GPA or a piece of parchment on the wall.

St. Paul, at the end of his worldly mission, declared “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” This was the man who, although he wrote much of the New Testament, had faced rejection, setback, ridicule. Churches he founded had rejected him. Friends he trusted betrayed him. But, at the end of his life and ministry, he could claim victory. Not because he made all “A’s” in the School of Life, but because he was faithful. He learned, he grew, he never quit.

Confession time: When I attend our graduations, I always weep. I see the success that so many have made happen. I see men and women who were often treated as failures, but now they can claim success. I see their families–their spouses, parents, children, and often their grandchildren, cheering as they cross the stage to receive their diplomas. To be part of such milestones never fails to humble me.

Because I know. I see the transcripts. Not everyone is “straight A’s.” Very few breeze through a real college, especially an established liberal arts school like Belhaven. These schools demand excellence in reading, writing, critical thinking, and the ability to iterate a Christian world view that goes far beyond “I believe in a Supreme Being.”

But this is what Success looks like! It is the battle-scarred veteran, the persecuted Apostle Paul, the weary but wise degree recipient.

Not many of our students drive away from graduation in European sports cars or carrying Gucci handbags.

But they walk away with an EDUCATION. They are wiser. They are stronger. They have been pushed to their limits and, even when they broke, they got back up and trudged on.

They fought their good fight. They finished their coursework. And, even when they wanted to give up, they kept the faith.

And THAT looks a whole lot like success.


Carol Dianne Danley, Bachelor of Arts-Social Services, Class of 2014  (Memphis Campus) pictured with Dr. Paul Criss


Be diligent!

Adult students often wonder: “When and how will I ever get this paper done, finish this course…and when will I ever graduate?” Completing a degree can feel like an eternity, especially when family, work, and other obligations leave one feeling like there’s no end in sight.

If this sounds like you, the Bible has a simple, encouraging word for you today: Be diligent.

Proverbs 10:5 tells us that “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.”

Diligence isn’t about pulling an all-nighter, or working quickly to get a task done no matter the quality of the end product. Instead, diligence implies a steady chipping away at something, a routine and focused commitment.

Diligence works! (Pun intended.)

Here’s what diligence in action might look like for you:

Plan ahead. Map out your papers and projects way ahead of time and hold yourself accountable to your deadlines. This will take some planning, but it’s worth the investment.

Lift “heavy rocks” when you’re strongest. Certain types of work – like writing papers – require you to be at your freshest. Some are freshest in the early morning. Others get a second wind in the quiet of late nights. Know when you work best on lifting your “heavy rocks” and work accordingly.

Work every day if at all possible. An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion….you get the picture. Even working just a half-hour a day on something school-related can keep you in the game. Take a day each week to rest. The rest of the time be about your business.

So be encouraged in your academic pursuit. By God’s grace you can pull this off. Be diligent.


The Last Chapter

I have a terrible confession to make. When I read a mystery or suspense novel, I will read the first few chapters of the book, and then I read the last chapter to find out how the story ends. After that, I go back and read the rest of the book, comforted in knowing that even though the plot may take twists and turns, I know how it ends.

In a recent Bible study at our church, I taught from the book of Revelation, Chapter 4. In this chapter it describes the throne room of heaven. What a glorious hope we have for our future as Christians. We too know how the story ends by reading the book of Revelation. What a comfort that is as we travel the journey of life here on earth.

So, what does this have to do with completing an education at Belhaven? Our hope for every student is that one day we can congratulate you as you walk across the stage, having completed all requirements for your degree. You know how your educational journey is supposed to end, so as life takes many twists and turns, don’t lose sight of the last chapter…..graduation.

The Transformational Nature of Adult Higher Education

In his book Center Church, Tim Keller describes several models of cultural engagement or descriptions of the various ways that we Christians view culture and our role in it. Keller writes that the transformationalist model “engages culture largely through an emphasis on Christians pursuing their vocations from a Christian worldview and thereby changing culture.”
I believe that Christian adult higher education is transformational and, for those of us who work in this field, Keller’s words should be encouraging. As we teach Christian worldview in the classroom and, as staff, model it in our interactions with students, we are impacting people who will, in turn, impact their workplaces, homes, places of worship, and communities with a biblically-informed transformational perspective.
Jesus describes his followers as the salt of the earth and the light of the world. These are powerful metaphors that instruct believers to flavor, preserve, and give direction to the world that God loves and is in the process of redeeming. This is the encouraging work of Christian adult higher education – to be salt and light to our students and to provide an educational experience that prepares them for that role in their various spheres of influence. The encouragement for our students is that your diligent work in the classroom is preparing you to be a participant in God’s kingdom vision for the world…His people “pursuing their vocations from a Christian worldview and thereby changing culture.”

Focus On The Right Thing!

I recently took my 15 year old grandson, Josh, on vacation with us to Washington DC. Guess who had just gotten his learner’s permit and wanted to drive. Since I am the ‘cool grandpa’, Josh got to drive – on the interstate when traffic was not too heavy.

When he first got behind the wheel, I noticed he had a tendency to weave a little. After a couple of minutes, I asked him how he was maintaining his lane. He said, “I am judging where I am by the white strip on the side of the highway and the broken line that separates the lanes.” He was steering the car based on where he was instead of where he wanted to go.

Very calmly (depending on whom you ask), I suggested he begin to watch the horizon and drive toward it without paying so much attention to the dividing lines. Once he began to trust that technique, his control of the car improved greatly and the ride was so much smoother. His confidence in his driving ability was at an all-time high!

This reminded me of the Apostle Peter when he walked on water with Jesus in Matthew 14. As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he walked on the water. But when Peter noticed the high winds and rough waves, he began to sink! Did you know that the same wind and waves were present while Peter was both walking and sinking? So, what made the difference in Peter’s success? Peter’s focus!

What a great life principle for the busy adult who is pursuing their degree while maintaining their professional life, their family life, their church life and their sanity! The ultimate goal is to earn the degree. As long as the focus is on that goal the distractions of life that could derail that pursuit can be navigated. But when the focus shifts from the goal to the distractions, the circumstances can be overwhelming!

The encouragement is to maintain the focus on finishing the degree no matter what is going on around you. Life is going to happen. Keeping your focus on the goal of your degree will enable you to handle the challenges of life and earn your degree at the same time!

Be Today Who You Desire to be Tomorrow: 3 ways to insure you reaching your desired career

1st – Invest in yourself
Do you have a tendency to put yourself on the back burner? Do not worry, you are not alone. Many people do including wives, husbands, parents, grandparents, sons, and daughters in order to take care of their loved ones. This is what we are supposed to do, however we are not supposed to neglect ourselves in the process. If we take better care of ourselves then we are able to better take care of others, right? Makes sense! Many times we are tricked into thinking just the opposite. We think we have to neglect ourselves, our needs, our wants and our desires. Continue pushing hard in school, sometimes it will be tough but you must, invest in yourself, YOU are worth it!!!!
2nd- Couple Your Education with Your Work Experience
Working in education I have heard time and time again that people have numerous years of experience, but cannot get that promotion or pay grade they want due to not having a degree. I can personally testify that after I completed my degree I gained an array of options pertaining to my employment, one of which I hold today as Director at Belhaven Houston. I felt many years ago that God was moving me to get my degree. I personally did not start college until my late twenties. I am so glad I did because otherwise I would not be encouraging you today to consider doing the same. If you felt the Lord lead you here to get your degree, go for it with all of your might, and when you get weary, call us we are here to help!!!
3rd- Understand Your Value
Too many times we go into an interview thinking, “I need this job.” The demands of bills and debt cause us sometime to settle for jobs that we would not want otherwise, but feel obligated to take due to necessity. What if we changed our way of thinking and decided to not settle for anything less than what we want. Instead of letting the employer interview us, what if we interviewed them? Just changing this perspective going into the interview will boost yourself confidence. Know your value, the asset that you are going to be to the company you are interviewing for and articulate it in such a way that you are not cocky, but confident. Whatever you do, do not settle for less than God’s best!!!


Active Faith

“And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come.  And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.”

Matthew 14:28-29 KJV

Have you ever thought about why Peter wanted to get out of the boat? Why did he all of a sudden think he could walk on water? Well, you might say, “It’s because he saw many of the miracles performed by Jesus.  For instance, when Jesus opened the blind eyes and cleansed the lepers.” Yes, that’s true. But, the other disciples in the boat saw the same things. Why didn’t they want to get out?

Peter understood that it was his time. He stirred his faith up. He believed at that moment that he could do what God placed in his heart. Jesus said, “Peter, do you want to get out of that boat?” He said, “Yes, I do.” Jesus replied, “Well, come on out.” Notice that Jesus didn’t say, “Peter, stay in that boat. Don’t you know I’m the Son of God?” No, He said, “Peter, I like your attitude of faith. I like the fact that you believe you can do great things.”

Today, we should have that same kind of boldness! Start believing that your time is here! All the dreams that you have, those desires that you thought would never work out, it’s time to start believing again. So when you grab your flip-flops and beach towels take some time to reflect on what God has put in your heart.  Then activate your faith and step out of the boat. It’s your time!  Maybe you started but stopped-out of your courses at Belhaven.  Perhaps, it became too difficult and you felt you could not manage it all.  Whatever the situation is, ask yourself the question “Would God put it in my heart and not give me the power to accomplish it?”  Whatsoever God has placed in your heart, it’s time to be found doing it. He never said it would be easy…but His grace is sufficient.  We were created for good works and good works we must do.

How’s it going? Smoothly or not?

Virginia M. Garrison, M.Ed., Director of Retention Services


This month the spring semester is coming to an end, and summer is quickly approaching. How are you doing in your courses? Are things running smoothly for you with no interruptions or disappointments? Are you laughing at that thought? If you are like most of us adults, there is always something happening that we didn’t expect! That’s part of life!

The important thing to remember is that no matter what happens, we need to keep focused on our goals in order to succeed. There may be setbacks along the way, but be encouraged. This too shall pass… hang in there. Remember why you began this journey! It doesn’t matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop! Keep moving forward toward earning your degree. It is an investment in your future.

At Belhaven University, we understand that many adult students have situations to arise that may discourage them. We want to assure you that you are not alone! There have been many others who have been concerned about being successful in school while working, raising a family, and handling many other responsibilities and the unexpected interruptions of life… and they have succeeded! We have thousands of adult graduates to prove it!

Our faculty and staff members on each of our campuses are here to help you. We will work with you through every step of the process from entrance all the way to graduation! If something happens that seems like a roadblock, talk to us. You are not alone, and you don’t need to be afraid of the unexpected.

As a Christian institution, we also believe that the Lord will be with you on your educational journey if you believe in Him, depend on Him, and lean on Him. He has promised to be with you, no matter what your circumstances are. Trust Him to help you!

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.  Isaiah 43:2

I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.  Phil. 4:13

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.  Isaiah 40:31





Why Are You Enrolled In School?

There are many reasons for going back to school. A recent article from Eduventures* states that 40% of adult students are enrolled in school to advance their careers. There is another 30% who want to finish what they started some time ago. Those searching for a different career field make up 20% of the adult learners, and another 10% are lifelong learners interested in taking course work of interest to them.

Behind those reasons for going back to school is an individual story that each adult learner can tell. At Belhaven, we value those individual stories, and we are pleased to work with each student to accomplish his/her personal goals. Often the road to completing what was started is strewn with obstacles that at times seem impossible to overcome.

I remember the student who lived in her car but faithfully came to class. She graduated two years ago and is going strong in a new career. What a joy is was to work with her during her time at Belhaven. There was the military student who was called up to active duty. He did not let that stop his progress toward his goal of an MBA and he switched his studies to our online program. There are also very happy stories. We had two students who met and married while attending classes at Belhaven.

Belhaven is a special haven for adult students seeking to achieve an educational goal. Our faculty and staff are devoted to the success of each individual student. We recently conducted some focus groups with our students and found that they do feel valued as individuals and the one thing we heard loud and clear is that the Christian foundation of our curriculum is our crown jewel. Many told us how their spiritual lives have changed because of the Christian values expressed in every class.
Wherever you are in your journey and whatever has motivated you to pursue your education, we applaud you and stand with you all the way through graduation.

*Meet Today’s Adult Learners: A Guide to Segmentation and Storytelling