Trading a Crisis for a Kingdom

Have you ever been blindsided by information or an event that totally changed the way you looked at the world? Maybe it was news that your job would be terminated or that you or a loved one were about to face a serious medical challenge. Something happened that struck fear in your heart. You realized that life would never be the same.

I think the difference between teenagers and adults is the way they make life-altering decisions. Teens are usually forward thinking and make major decisions based on their dreams. They’re going to change the world. Those of us who are deeper into life (job, family, community) are more reactionary. We typically think we’ve got life figured out until something unexpected slaps us in the face and turns our world upside. When that happens, our reactions become attempts to restore the equilibrium in life we experienced prior to the event. We’re afraid, and we don’t want to be afraid any more.

Jesus shared an interesting story with his followers that is typically referred to as the parable of the rich fool. You know the story. A rich guy had some good years which turned into a good life. He was so successful that he had to build bigger buildings to store all of his stuff. His attitude was “I’ve worked hard, provided for my family…it’s time to kick back and relax.” So far, so good. Most of us Americans can connect with his “I’ve worked for it – it’s mine” mentality. Actually, most of us, if we’re honest, must admit that we don’t have a problem with it. Jesus’ disciples probably didn’t have a problem with it either. After all, isn’t it prudent to work and save so that you can take care of yourself and your family in the future? Yes, but…

I think Jesus’ disciples were responsible, professional, business oriented people who may have been surprised by the slap-in-the-face, life-altering, paradigm-shifting ending of Jesus’ story: Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided? So is he who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God (Luke 12:20-21, NKJV).

Did Jesus’ followers expect such a tragic end for an otherwise successful entrepreneur? In fairness to the text, the parable of the rich fool is about covetousness. This business man was extremely successful and not willing to share his excess. However, I don’t think his disciples got it. Have you ever wondered why Jesus spent the next 12 verses (Luke’s account) calming them down (“don’t’ worry,” “do not fear, little flock”)? What Jesus’ followers heard, I believe, was “Forget what you’ve learned about profits, savings, and a business model that generates some level of predictability.” Instead, Jesus tells them to seek his kingdom first and all of their needs would be met. Did you catch that? Don’t worry about food, clothing, shelter, planning – trust God instead. Has any one of us done that today…this week…month…ever?

As an admissions director at one of Belhaven University’s adult and graduate studies campuses, I deal with adults whose lives, many times, have been uprooted by unexpected information or events. In fact, one of the main drivers of adults returning to college these days is a life crisis – the loss of a job, of a potential promotion…of a spouse. Like Jesus’ disciples, we find our lives clipping along at a comfortable and somewhat predictable pace only to find that kingdom life isn’t based on some rational model found in a textbook.

In response to his disciples’ crisis of faith recorded in Luke 12, Jesus taught a lesson of trust and hope: Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Jesus asked his followers to exchange the old paradigm of possessions and predictability for the new paradigm of the kingdom (giving and serving). He taught them that the transition requires trust, a step of faith, and the willingness to exchange worry about the future for a day-by-day trusting in his resources.

If you’re reading this blog, you probably expected it to somehow relate to adult education. Here’s the connection. I’ve worked in this field long enough to have learned that, for many adults, returning to college is perceived as part of the solution to an unexpected life crisis. If a job is lost or a promotion missed, returning to college can make one more marketable. If we’ve been part of an organization’s “right-sizing” strategy, an undergraduate or graduate degree can help us transition to a new career path. For many, earning a degree can provide a level of job security in uncertain economic times.

If you feel that your circumstances are pushing you back into the classroom, you’re not alone. More than one-half of today’s college students are non-traditional, adult students. In fact, Belhaven University has six adult and graduate campuses around the southeast that make up a community of adult learners who have decided to take Jesus at his word. Returning to college is not easy or comfortable, but for our students it has become the next step forward. For those who seek Jesus’ direction in their lives, there are many examples of God’s provision. They’ve learned that out of a crisis comes a kingdom, and in that kingdom are found all of the resources needed for the task at hand…and much more.




Adult Degree Programs and Community Building


If you’re a working adult reading this article, chances are that you have considered returning to school. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 48% of all adults over the age of 40 participated in degree programs or classes in 1999, and the trend continues today. Nearly 50% of all college students are 25 years of age or older. Eighty percent of these students work full time while attending class.

Why are adults returning to the classroom in record numbers? Some adults are returning to school in order to gain skills or credentials that will protect their current jobs or help them find new jobs. Others are returning for personal reasons – to finish what they started. Whatever the reason, the adult student has become as much a part of the college landscape as the bell tower or backpack.

The adult returning to college brings many issues to the table. Long gone are the days when she can focus totally on her studies with little else to worry about. For most adults returning to college, this new endeavor must be balanced with work, family, and a myriad of other activities that compete for the student’s time. Institutions that offer educational programs for adult learners must offer a learning environment that is designed to meet the unique needs of the adult learner. In order to make these “non-traditional” students successful in their return to the classroom, traditional programs must become “non-traditional.”  They must reach out to adult students with new and innovative approaches rather than expecting them to conform to an environment designed for younger students with less complicated lives.

The degree programs that you will find on Belhaven University’s adults studies campuses represent such an approach. We recognize that learning takes place when adult students are challenged to link newly acquired information to their career activities. The classroom environment, weekly assignments, and project-team assignments are all designed to maximize learning in ways that are meaningful to the adult learner.

The need to attend college while not neglecting other responsibilities is an important issue for the adult considering a return to college. Students in Belhaven’s non-traditional degree programs attend class once a week instead of two or three times a week. This allows more time for family, church, work and all of those other things that require the student’s attention. The convenience of our adult degree programs is enhanced by impeccable student services and competitive tuition rates than include the costs of books

So, what does all of this have to do with my theme of community building? Having been told a few years back that “it takes a village to raise a child,” we can’t help but acknowledge, in this turbulent economy, that it takes education to build and sustain the village. Education is an integral part of any attempt to build better communities. The bottom line is that when adults can complete their college degrees, communities benefit in a number of ways. Local businesses benefit from a workforce enhanced by the knowledge and abilities of the college graduates. Local economies benefit from the increased purchasing power that a college degree brings to its recipients. Families benefit from the positive changes in quality of life that usually accompany the mother or father who now has a college degree.

Belhaven University’s adult studies campuses have been part of this type of community building since 1996. With a reach that includes Jackson, Mississippi; Memphis; Houston; Orlando; Atlanta; and Chattanooga; our graduates are impacting communities throughout the southeast and beyond. At one time, most of these people thought that they would never complete their college degrees.  As the lives of most working adults become more complicated in these uncertain times, Belhaven University remains committed to offering uncomplicated ways for adult learners to realize their dreams and contribute to the growth and well being of their communities.


Belhaven University’s Online Program Announces Reduced Tuition Rates

January 27, 2011: Belhaven University’s Online Program will be reducing their tuition rates effective March 7, 2011! Belhaven’s Online program offers degrees in Associate of Arts, Bachelor of Science in Management, Master of Public Administration, Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Leadership, and Mississippi Alternate Teacher Certification. “When you consider Belhaven University’s online degrees, because of our long history, you know the quality and service will be there. Our new tuition rates make Belhaven online degrees a great value when you compare our quality, service, and price,” says Audrey Kelleher, Vice President of Adult and Graduate Marketing and Development. The new tuition prices are as follows:

Undergraduate = $320 per credit hour
Graduate = $520 per credit hour
Mississippi Alternative Teacher Certification = $445 per credit hour

Each program has a $225 resource fee for each course, which includes all required textbooks, the shipment of books to the students prior to the start of all courses, use of the Belhaven Warren A. Hood library and all online library data bases and electronic books, and academic support services to assure successful completion of the program. These new rates will hold through June 2012.

Belhaven proudly stands among the select Christian colleges and universities that offer a unique general core curriculum encouraging the development of a personal worldview. The university believes a Christian worldview is a key to preparing men and women academically and spiritually to serve Christ Jesus in their careers, in human relationships, and in the world of ideas. Founded in 1883, Belhaven University now serves over 3,000 students from campuses in Jackson, Memphis, Orlando, Houston, Chattanooga, Atlanta, and online, offering traditional undergraduate degrees, graduate and adult degree programs, and online degree programs.