There were several times during the dissertation stage of my doctorate that I questioned the whole college thing. We were making a lot of sacrifices for me to go back to school. We were poor (ask my aunt–she did our taxes). And, as my spiritual life was asking me to look for ways to drastically change my life, my school responsibilities were asking me to read 100 pages a day, research, teach, and create unique, critical, and analytical arguments . . . that in no way would change the world . . . or so I thought.

It was Pop who helped me look at this stage of life with new perspective. During a particular low point in all of this, he said to me that I was engaged in the “ministry of the mind.” His implication (and I hope I get this right) was that all of my education was great training for my ministry as a teacher. We forget that Jesus’ ministry started when he was 30. We also forget that wonderful piece of Scripture (Luke 2) that reminds us that Jesus “grew in wisdom and stature.” Students are in desperate need of the “ministry of the mind.” It may not happen in every college class they take. For some, it might not happen in a classroom. But college, when it is at its best, gives our students those opportunities to grow in wisdom and stature. We pay for it, yes. But our hope is that investment in our children will be eternal, not just one for good grades and a nice diploma.

And, to quote the Womb Mother (fair to fair, same to same), “there is good debt and there is bad debt. College Loans are always good debt.”

And, Nate, I know that when you list your personal “Hall of Fame,” those guys come from your undergrad days at the U of Arkansas. College gave you many things to draw from in your ministry. You could have found some of those lessons elsewhere, but you didn’t. You found them in college.

lovingly and collegiately yours,
the elder

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