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.