Walking In

Two weeks ago, we were packing up our campus – preparing for the following day: moving day! I’ve never met anyone who likes to move. Given the choice between moving and having a root canal, I’ll take the root canal – gladly. However, the prospect that moving to a bright and shiny new facility would allow us to better serve our students was motivation enough. We were pumped and ready to pack. Just as we thought we couldn’t be more motivated, Joe walked in.

Joe is always walking in. Each evening when he walks into our campus, his hardy greetings seem to electrify the place. Joe walks into each office – into my office. Whatever is wrong with the day always gets a little better when Joe walks in.

As a non-traditional student, Joe is older than many of his millennial and Gen X classmates. As his instructor, I quickly found that Joe brought a lot of wisdom to the classroom and wasn’t shy to share it with us! Much has been written about generational differences these days. When Joe walked into my classroom, it became evident that there are more similarities than differences between us – that we’re all ultimately searching for the same things in life – confirmation that our lives matter: a sense of purpose.

We didn’t ask for student volunteers to help us prepare for the move, but, as I mentioned previously, Joe walked in – a May, 2016 graduate of Belhaven University (BS in Management) and newly enrolled graduate student (Master of Science in Leadership). We talked, laughed, packed, and all shared a meal together. A day that we had not looked forward to suddenly became a very good day.

The day after we packed for the move, Joe had a massive stroke. As of this writing, he is not doing well. Please pray for Joe. We don’t know if he will ever walk into our campus again – only God knows. A family member wrote the following: Joe was very proud of his work at Belhaven and learning with your organization gave him a great sense of purpose…thank you for that.

Of all the things that adult degree programs do for their students (better pay, opportunities for promotions, etc.), providing a student with “a great sense of purpose” represents our highest calling. Joe, and the adult students he represents, reminds us that amidst the discussion of career goals and academic planning, a much deeper longing motivates students when they walk through our doors.

I don’t think it’s an accident that adult students find purpose in programs like ours. The Christian worldview component has something to do with that for sure. There’s also the people component – the faculty, staff, and fellow students. We’re family, and its “family” that motivates a student to show up, to hang out, to walk into our offices –and ultimately into our lives. For this, we should be grateful.



Ed Pickel – Chattanooga/Dalton Campus

Using Your Talents

Does the fear of failure keep you away from trying things that could be great for you? Do you feel like God is leading you to do something that you are hesitant to start? There are many people who feel the same way. Starting something new and unknown is difficult and unsettling; however, in order to grow, people need to be in situations that force them to strive for something difficult to attain.

An example of this is the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. A master gives three of his servants one talent each. This was no small sum. The modern equivalent to a talent could be as much as a million dollars. This master believed in his servants and expected a great deal from them. The first two were wise and invested well. They brought back much more than their master initially gave them. But the third was concerned that he would lose the master’s money and did not make any effort to invest it. Instead, he buried it for safe keeping. Little did he know that this was the worst thing that he could do.


It is oddly coincidental that a measure of money back then was called “talent” because this is also something of value to the Master. He gives us talents that we are to invest in business or people. The problem comes when we let fear overtake us, and we bury our talent inside of us instead of using it. We were not meant to bury it, but to use it for the good of ourselves, others, and to glorify the One who gave the gift.

Knowledge is like these talents. You are investing in your education in order to grow the talent that God has naturally given you. He has instructed you to do so, and given you the ability. Now it is up to you to put in the work of growing that talent into something more than it was before!

Student Success

Keep striving until completion. He gave you the talent, and He will give you strength and endurance to finish!

He makes all things new

From our Director of Admission and Student Services in Memphis, Erica Johnson:

As we are watching the beautiful spring season unfold and bloom…the phrase “April Showers Bring May Flowers” comes to mind!  We are definitely experiencing an early spring… and it’s such a beautiful visual reminder of God’s new life and creation and His ability to produce glorious transformations not only in nature but also in the lives of His children.

When we are following God’s plan for our lives- it becomes clear where He plants seeds and where the fruits of His labor blossom.  While, seeds and trees require rain for nourishment and growth- sometimes the rain may come in the form of a spring thunderstorm which is par for the course of the changing of seasons- from winter into spring.  Those storms can be severe at times; however, once those storms have passed and the sun is shining brightly- we can really see the beauty of God’s creation.  As the trees bloom and bright colorful flowers blossom, each day becomes more and more beautiful.

God works in our lives the very same way…and often times, when we are facing our own personal storms… finding our safe haven in Christ and trusting him to take us to through the storm can not only test our faith, but tests our willingness to give up trying to control the outcome.  He tells us in His word:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7


When we are facing tough assignments or feel like we just can’t meet a deadline… We must remember that we are on our own personal journey and God is working in our lives…we just have to give Him control and trust completely in His plan.  When we are able to completely follow His lead, we will still continue to grow and be challenged; but when we come out on the other side, we will be transformed – and molded into the person God is shaping us to be.  Living by faith, allows us to continuously evolve in our character…and allows God’s handiwork to shine through- so we will have our story to tell and God can ultimately be glorified.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; the old has gone, the new is here!  Corinthians 5:17


-Erica Johnson

he makes

Keep Your Chin Up



SPRING! It’s a new season. Beautiful colors are coming back into the landscape. Trees have green leaves again, and flowers are blooming. Soon the grass will need mowing again.   grass_border_3    Oh, maybe you didn’t want to be reminded of that!

Has it been a long winter for you? Have you faced more obstacles than opportunities lately? Are you tired? Is it hard to keep going to class and to complete your assignments each week?

Take a deep breath and remember why you are on this journey. You are in school to reach an educational goal you have set for yourself. You and many other students can get discouraged during the challenging times. Remind yourself of the reward at the end of the race.

Keep your focus on the finish line! diploma


“Let your eyes look directly ahead and

let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.”

Proverbs 4:25-26

Keep Your Chin Up

Why Learning to Work with Younger Generations is so Important

Working Together

Why Learning to Work with Younger Generations is so Important

Did you know that there are four generations in the workplace? That’s right! There are, and if you want to have a satisfying career, you have to learn how to work well with all of them. This can be challenging for many professionals. Why? Because each generation has a different way of looking at work and a different definition of accountability. This is causing a lot of friction between “old schoolers” and “new schoolers,” which can be detrimental to both your work relationships and productivity.

As a seasoned worker who’s had many years of experience in your field, it can be tough to watch someone straight out of college excel in front of your eyes, and it can be easy to shut down new, innovative ideas with the excuse “We’ve always done it this way.” What you might not realize, though, is that the frustration you’re feeling is being projected to your co-workers, especially those who you feel are overstepping their professional boundaries. You look intimidating to them, and instead of seeing you as a helpful resource, they see you as the grumpy, old co-worker who has a huge problem adjusting to the times. Your fellow employees aren’t the only ones who see you this way; employers will too, and this is where you run into further issues. If you allow this negative attitude to interfere with your work, people will notice, and trust me, it’s a bad look for you. It hurts your professional brand immensely and makes it harder for you to advance.

Organizations want professionals who are excited and willing to collaborate with employees of all ages because, in the end, it doesn’t matter how old you are – the only thing that matters is that you do a great job while working collaboratively with others.

-Wilbert C. Bryant, Jr.

The Wise Man

The Wise Man

Proverbs 17:10 advises that a reproof has more effect on a wise man than a severe beating has on a foolish man.

Each time I drop my (perfect, beautiful, intelligent) teenaged daughter at school, my parting words for her are “Love you! Remember, obey God and make good decisions today.” She smiles, rolls her eyes (she has heard it a thousand times) and jumps out to escape any more of Dad’s sage advice. And as she walks away, I silently pray that she will indeed live wisely.

I wish that I could report that I have learned and routinely practice the proverb I referenced above. Alas, too often while considering myself wise I do the most foolish things! And yes, life has a way of beating me up when I behave foolishly. I can look back on my life and see just a few key decisions that, had I chosen wisely, would have chartered a more fruitful course for me.

I suppose one of the greatest lessons in wisdom I have had to accept is that God puts people in my life to help me along the path of wisdom. My foolish pride has kept me from hearing their wisdom from time to time, but as I get older I am beginning to be able to hear. Oh that I would have heeded them as a young man! “Too soon old, too late wise.” NOW I get it!

I expected my mentors to be bigger than life, like in the movies. If God had put a Master Yoda or a Gandalf or perhaps a Lion King along my path I might (might!) have listened. But instead He put parents, siblings, friends, elders, bosses, coworkers, and especially teachers.

Teachers? I knew that teachers helped me gain knowledge, certainly, but wisdom?

And then I remembered all of the times I have reacted badly to a grade or corrective input regarding my schoolwork. “This isn’t fair! I turned in all of my work—where’s my ‘A’?” “How DARE he/she put that much red ink on my essay? Teacher just doesn’t like me…” and on and on, etc. etc. etc.

Yet, in all honesty, I learn more from my mistakes than from my successes. Having an instructor hurt my feelings and destroy my ego with a bunch of red ink made me a better writer, a more earnest critical thinker, a more studious student. Could it be that God placed that instructor in that classroom to reprove me? And, in so doing, he or she imparted something magical?

Proverbs 10:17 instructs me that he who heeds instruction is on the path of life. I like that. More importantly, I NEED that. In a world of darkness and death, someone who cares enough to impart life in the form of reproof is a gift from on high.

So, ego and hurt feelings notwithstanding, I strive to embrace wisdom. As the writer of proverbs stated so eloquently, I need to seek wisdom with all of my heart, shouting aloud for it and digging deep like searching for hidden treasure. And maybe take the advice of the wise ones God has blessed me with!

And so, if you encounter me from time to time with a bleeding ego, bruised feelings, or grousing about the injustice of the latest correction God has brought into my life, just remember (and maybe remind me) that God and His appointed teachers are molding me into a wise man.


Master Yoda

5 Tips for Winning at Academic Writing

Academic writing is hard.

It’s just not something we do outside of school. Most of us spend our days texting, emailing, and talking – not writing papers.

When it’s time to put our thoughts down on paper, we often find ourselves struggling at the disconnect we experience. Moreover, academic writing comes with its own set of challenges: following APA, MLA and other formats; making sure we produce clear and compelling arguments; and last but not least, proofing, proofing…and more proofing.

Yet there is hope! Here are 5 simple ways to experience an immediate improvement in your writing and writing process.

Be clear. Write to be understood. It sounds simple enough, but we tend to shirk from the work of ensuring that our words accurately reflect our intended meaning. Sometimes we’re not even sure of what we mean to say and our ambivalence is reflected in muddy writing. Do the heavy lifting that is careful thinking before you write. Be clear!

Be concise. We’ve all done it – rattling on in a paper not because we have anything to say, but because we’ve got to meet the page limit requirement and even after upping our font to 14 pt and changing our margins, we’re not there! (BTW, please don’t up your font and change your margins to stretch your paper!) Sometimes, less actually is more. Say what you mean to say in as few words as possible. Use simple sentences where feasible. While it’s tough to see paragraphs of your work disappear, your work will be much stronger.

Let it marinate. Pulling all-nighters is bad news for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that your work doesn’t have a chance to age. Letting your work sit untouched for a day or so and then coming back to it afresh will work wonders for the quality of your writing. You’ll be able to clearly see where your work doesn’t make sense and where it’s not clear and concise, not to mention the typos you’ll inevitably find.

And on the topic of typos: Proof. Proof. Proof. While useful, don’t bank on Spell Check. Proof thoroughly, word by word, line by line. The temptation is to skim through work we think is ‘OK.’ Take your time with it. Proof!

Lastly, be encouraged in your writing pursuits. You can be a better writer – and this can make the difference between the “A” or “B” that is yours and the “C” or “D” you suffer because your writing is working against you.

The Perfect Gift

From our friend Sandra Kelly, Director of Student Services for Belhaven’s LeFleur Campus

Like most people, Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love to decorate my home with lights, adorn my tree with ornaments and set up my animated nativity scene just above my fireplace. I enjoy driving around neighborhoods looking at lights and taking in all the beautiful Christmas decorations.  So, needless to say, I love everything about Christmas!

Now that Christmas Day has come and gone, I reflect on the past few weeks. The hustle and bustle, the parties and gifts, the songs and the greetings. And I examine myself: Did I really connect? Did I take a moment to ponder that Holy Night and that Special Gift? And will I truly try to carry the spirit of the season in my heart for the days, weeks, and months to come? Or do I set it aside along with the torn wrapping paper and empty boxes?

This time of year usually adds more tasks to my already full to-do list, and this year was no different. This month has been filled with loads of events to attend, a house to decorate, dishes to prepare for holiday parties, school Christmas programs to attend, church cantata rehearsals, and gifts to buy. With so much to do and so little time to do it, it is easy to miss the beauty of the season.

Each year, however, I refuse to allow stress to turn the Christmas season into a competition. To combat stress, one of the things I find joy in is listening to Christmas music. I know that there are numerous versions to some of the same classic songs. However, what I have learned to do is not solely focus on the tune, but rather listen to the words. When I do this, I find out that I just might hear the voice of God, and it may be the very therapy that I need in order to see Christmas as something more.

Let’s take a look at one of my favorite songs, “O Holy Night.” I love this song! Without a doubt, it is such a beautiful melody. Conversely, in verse one, hidden is one lyric that is a countenance of the Christmas spirit. “’Til he appeared and the soul felt its worth….”

A fulfilled promise lies true with the coming of Christ. Jesus’ birth is prophesied in the Old Testament, like Isaiah 7:14, which references Mary, the virgin’s birth. Miraculous is the birth as is the promise that presented humanity redemption. This was the first essential step towards Easter and the cross. So, when Christ was born, like this song says, as His children, we all revealed that we were worthy. Even in all of our mess (sin), God deemed us still important enough to keep His promise and come for our souls. I tell you what…..that is pure love!

So what does Christmas mean to me? It is all about God giving us His best, because He passionately loves us. Don’t believe me? Remember what John tells us in John 3:16: “For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son…” (NLT). Again, the Bible reassures His love in 1st John 4:9-10: “God showed how much He loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love” (NLT).

By now, you should be smiling! Does that not just warm your heart? As you go through the hectic holiday season where you are doing all that you can to keep up, you can be at peace, because you have already established worth and love in your Heavenly Father. Forgot to buy a gift? It’s fine! Messed up putting up the Christmas lights? That’s ok, too! Christmas is a celebration of Jesus’ birth and the awareness that we are loved just the way we are.

I hope you enjoyed a Merry Christmas! And may the Joy of the season abide with you throughout the New Year!

Belhaven Singing Christmas Tree

You Go Daddy!

The Chattanooga campus of Belhaven University will hold its graduation ceremony next Thursday evening. Two Decembers ago, I wrote about a child who yelled “Yay Daddy” when his father walked across the stage to receive his associate degree. Although I’m sure that the child was simply caught up in the excitement of seeing his dad momentarily elevated above the crowd, it struck me that there may be something more to that temporary interlude in our ceremony than appears on the surface. Here’s what I wrote two years ago:
• The words “Yay Daddy” coming from an adult student’s child confirm that the hard work and sacrifice that goes into earning a college degree has been worth it. Someone who loves and looks up to the graduate has uttered the ultimate confirmation.

• The words “Yay Daddy” indicate that the child recognizes graduation as a major accomplishment in his parent’s life. He sees that his dad’s hard work is recognized and makes the connection between diligence, perseverance, and reward. These are vital connections for the child’s future success in school and in the workplace.

• Finally, the words “Yay Daddy” mean that the child, more than likely, will be a college graduate himself. Research indicates that children of college graduates are more likely to be college graduates themselves. Our kids are watching. They see Mom or Dad writing a paper, reading a book, or preparing a presentation. Children see the value in education only to the extent that their parents model its value.

What’s interesting this year is that our “daddy” is graduating again – this time for his bachelor degree. So, what does his latest accomplish teach us about this dad and what might his son learn from it? Here’s an additional thought:

• The words “Yay Daddy” now become “Go Daddy.” This little boy’s father doesn’t stop after completing one educational milestone. He keeps on going! It’s now evident that he sees the importance of life-long learning. In our current economy and certainly as we move into the future, we must keep on learning as our resources and vision allow. As important as it is for this child to learn (through the example of his father) the value of education, it is at least equally important for him to learn the value of persistence in education. It will take a life-long learner to succeed in his brave new world.

I’m not sure what words the children of our graduates will utter at graduation this coming Thursday evening. I’m sure they’ll be restless about ten minutes into the ceremony, and before long, it goes without saying that some cries and other sounds of discontent will begin to compete with the speakers and musicians. So, TJ, in case your little man is asleep or otherwise distracted when your name is called this year, from all of us at Belhaven University, You Go Daddy! Graduate classes begin in January.

Ed Pickel
Belhaven University

From our friend Pete Deegan, Director of Admission and Student Services for Belhaven Houston:

The story of David and Goliath comes to mind whenever I face a difficult obstacle. However, more often than not, I relate more to the frightened Israelites who looked up at Goliath with fear. The obstacles in front of me seem like an unbeatable opponent that I am a fool to challenge. In that moment there is a choice to let that fear overtake and cripple or to let God’s still small voice speak encouragement in that hopeless situation. And all that I have to do is uncover my ears to hear His words speak to me.

David & Goliath








He speaks in different ways. He speaks through scripture, songs, or the people in our lives. I hope that you take the encouragement that is offered today. When the obstacle seems insurmountable, He is there to help you on your way. Just listen to His voice. And don’t forget that you have friends in classes, and a staff who care about your success!