Decisions Regarding Higher Education
by Steve and Teri Ong
In light of the educational principles explained in the preceding article, how should one go about making decisions concerning higher education?
Motivation. No decision should be based primarily on preparing a student for the highest paying, most prestigious career. Preparation should be made for maximum service to God. Paul counted his prestige as nothing compared to knowing and serving Christ. His tent making skill was sufficient to keep him supplied with food and raiment, and he was content with that.
The hardest part is to discern your own intentions if you desire to pursue a career in a prestigious field such as law or medicine. God does call some to serve him through these avenues, like Luke the physician. But you must have only a pure motive. The heart of man is deceitful and wicked, but God's Word can discern our thoughts and intentions (Heb. 4:12). Pursuing professional degrees and credentials should be done only after much thoughtful study and prayer; otherwise, you will almost certainly shipwreck your life like Demas through love of the present world.
Objectives. A trade skill is undoubtedly useful for all. Paul was a tent maker. The Lord Jesus was a carpenter. But there is also a place for a broad-based, liberal arts education founded on biblical truth and a Christian world view.
God is able to use those who have a special understanding of the times (I Chron. 12:32). Understanding our times requires a broad background in history and literature. Fulfilling civic responsibilities requires a basic understanding of the principles of law.
Providing for the needs of your family and giving wise counsel to friends and neighbors necessitates a basic understanding of education, economics, and medicine.
Preparation. A deep understanding of the doctrines and content of the Bible and a commitment to obey God must undergird all else or the house will be built on shifting sand.
If God leads you to seek higher education, that education needs to take place in an environment that is spiritually uplifting rather than spiritually degrading (Matt. 18:6). It must be socially and emotionally safe as well, protecting the hearts of the students. It must be an atmosphere of kindness and truth (Proverbs 3:3).
Some students may have the academic background to pursue higher education, but they may not be morally ready. Peter stated that one must have diligence, faith, and moral excellence before pursuing knowledge (II Peter 1:5-8).
If a student is haphazard in his studies, is content to get by on the faith of his parents rather than living his own life of faith, and does not make wise moral choices on a regular basis, that student is not ready to pursue any further education.
Goals. Peter also stated that the product of pursuing the right kind of knowledge would be self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness, and love. If all of these things are present in a life, that person will be a fruitful person (II Peter 1:5-8). He did not say one word about being rich and successful in a career. If a student's goal is not to deepen his walk with God and increase his effectiveness in serving God, he probably is not ready for higher education.
The conferring of a high school diploma does not signify that the student is no longer under the authority of the parents and the protection of the home.
Solomon attained the highest possible level of education, wealth, power, and prestige, but ended his life ineffective in the service of God. He concluded that all was vanity. He urged young people to remember their Creator in the days of their youth. No matter what educational route you choose, remember that Solomon's conclusion was, Fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person (Eccl. 12:13).