A Reflection on My Upcoming PhD Graduation Ceremony

Two Wonderful Brothers-in-Christ: Eric Johnson and Jeremy Pierre at my “successful” dissertation defense.

Friday will be a special day in my life. I will finish the formal part of my educational journey by walking across the stage at the graduation ceremony at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I can’t believe it was just thirteen years ago that I started this long walk.


Much has changed since I pursued higher education. Soon, I will cover my wall with my fourth advanced degree, but, that is not what I consider important anymore. I used to long for acceptability in the discipline of Christian counseling. I studied at the right schools, met the right people, did all the right things. But, as I reflect on it now, I now realize those things are not much more than wood, hay, and stubble. What really counts is the relationships you form along the way.

Tonight, I am reading one of Francis Schaeffer’s letters. Schaeffer wrote this soon after surviving a brutal intra-denominational conflict. As I read Schaeffer’s comments, I thought about all the division in Christian counseling. This made me sad. But, then, I saw the letter for what it was, the reflections of a middle-aged man who had accomplished much and now wanted to make a difference in his sphere of the world.

I think as we grow older our worlds grow smaller. Our shrinking universes are not bad, for if we are smart, we can use the confines of our smaller surroundings to make an impact, not on the world, but as counselors, on those sitting in front of us. Listen to Schaeffer’s words, they so resonate with my experience:

… God willing, I will push and politick no more … The mountains are too high, history is too long, and eternity is longer. God is too great, man is too small, there are many of God’s dear children, and all around there are men going to Hell. And if one man and a group of men do not approve of where I am and what I do, does it prove I’ve missed success? No; only one thing will determine that — whether this day I’m where the Lord of lords and King of kings wants me to be. To win as many as I can, to help strengthen the hands of those who fight unbelief in the historical setting in which they are placed, to know the reality of “the Lord is my song,” and to be committed to the Holy Spirit — that is what I wish I could know to be the reality of each day as it closes.[1]

As each day closes, I pray that Schaffer’s preferred reality will be both yours and mine.

  1. Francis A. Schaffer, Letters of Francis A. Schaeffer, Lane T. Dennis editor (Westchester, IL: Crossway, 1985, loc. 320, Kindle.  ↩

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