By Dr. Stan Norman, President, Williams Baptist University
One of the major misconceptions about higher education is the idea that students pursue a degree to get a better job than they might get if they did not go college. In other words, many parents and students view the college experience as a business transaction – go to college, get a degree, graduate, then get a good job.
I fully support the idea of education providing pathways for careers. As the father of three sons, I share the desire every parents has for their children – to be gainfully employed in meaningful and fulfilling jobs. Our college experience often does directly connect with a vocation. We do want to steward the educational experience in ways that prepares us for our careers.
I would contend, however, that Christian higher education is far more than the pursuit of a good job, or a better job. The stewardship of an educational experience at a Christian university is far greater than career preparation or professional training. I believe that Christian higher education equips our students for lives of service to God in church and society. From its beginning, Christian colleges and universities were regarded as expressions of the Great Commission – preparing students to be faithful followers of the Lord Jesus. When rightly conceived, Christian higher education is an extension of the disciple-making ministry of the Church.
I was recently reminded of this by a social media posting from one of our recent graduates, Steven Wood. Steven served four years in the United State Marine Corp and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2013. Following his military career, Steven enrolled at Williams Baptist University and graduated in 2019, Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry, with an emphasis in missions. He is currently working for a local company as a software developer.
In his posting, Steven shared his testimony of the value that his time at WBU had upon his life. He has given me permission to share his story below.
I see posts and memes about college educated people who can’t find jobs, and I think that is unfortunate. College isn’t for everyone. I have a trade job that didn’t necessarily require a bachelor’s degree. It was a steppingstone that God used to get me where I’m supposed to be now.With that said, I had the privilege and honor of going to a university that didn’t want to just educate next year’s professionals, but to provide its students with a worldview to guide thinking and decision-making. The professors I had at WBU wanted me to be competent in my field, but they also wanted me to do well in other areas of life that are important, such as parenting and marriage.The benefit that schools like WBU have over bigger state schools is that no matter where you land after graduation, your education is not a waste. Your professors share wisdom in all areas of life. Our lives are more than our job title or position. Every single decision has the power to change the course of your life. And the lives of those who come after you, who come after us.
God does call and prepare us for our careers. We do an incredible job at WBU of preparing our students for their vocations – jobs and careers are important, and we mindful of the role WBU has in guiding and preparing our students in this area.
Our mission, however, is greater than career preparation. Steven’s story is a living testimony of the value of Christian higher education. Our mission is “to provide an excellent, holistically Christian, liberal arts education, while compassionately shaping students’ lives.” We do provide an incredible education, and we do provide our students with career and professional education. But more than this, God uses our faculty, coaches, staff, and administrators to shape the lives of our students in a Christ-centered worldview. We want to prepare these young men and women for lives of service to God, to be faithful, devout followers of Jesus Christ. Our vision does include career preparation, but our mission is more about life preparation, about equipping disciples for service “in the harvest.”
Steven represents the untold numbers of students whose lives God transformed through the mission of Williams Baptist University. We pray that the Lord would send more students so that we can grow in our mission of producing “exceptional graduates prepared to competently engage local and global cultures through a Christ-centered worldview.” God changes lives at WBU to serve Him in His harvest for His glory.