An Open Letter to the Educated

If you were to step into my office, you would look behind my desk to see a framed piece of paper on the wall. In my opinion, it looks pretty impressive. Looks can be quite deceiving though because the closer you get the more likely you are to see a piece of paper you aren’t expecting. Found wadded up from being thrown into a file hangs my GED in all of its glory. A testimony to the faithfulness of God. I received it in December of 2011 after taking the test high with a friend of mine. I had dropped out of high school because the prospect of drug addiction seemed far more appealing to an 18-year-old kid.

Today, I’m a pastor. I’ve spent thousands of hours with friends, family, and acquaintances who have far more education than me. They have the papers, the hours of work, the dedication, and the diplomas to prove it. As I’ve been reflecting on the truths God is showing me in Scripture and getting the opportunity to encourage and witness a whole new wave of diploma grabbers, I can’t help but be filled with gratitude to God.

The educated have been an immense blessing in my life. I’m not talking about the formally educated with the diplomas. I’m talking about the Scripturally educated and those who use their diplomas for the purposes of God. I’m grateful for these people. People more mature in their faith have poured hours of investment into me and by God’s grace and power, I stand on their backs.

For those of you who have an education through some sort of degree or through countless hours of pouring over the Scriptures, I want to encourage you with one truth:

Your education is not your own.

People like me need people like you and people like you need more people like you. You have been given an incredible gift by God to learn. Those that learn must become those that teach. Look at this text in Galatians 2,

”I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20 ESV)

In what way can you leverage your education for the progression of God’s Kingdom? I think this is a far greater question than the typical “What is God’s will for my life?” As someone who hasn’t been gifted with much formal education, it brings me incredible grief to witness someone waste their formal education by using it for themselves.

God has given you a phenomenal gift. Stop complaining about it. Stop being obsessed with income potential or your future. Stop being so absorbed in your own plans and desires that you miss God’s intentions for the gift he’s given you. When we take the gift God has given us and leverage it for ourselves we spit in the face of our Creator as we lift up the gift as god and degrade our true King in the process.

What would the church look like if we did this? It sounds to me like the Body doing the work of the Body with each one doing their own part (Eph. 4:11-13). It sounds like the Body of Christ being held together by Christ as each part works properly making the body grow and building itself up in love (Eph. 4:16).

What if God in his infinite wisdom designed you to obtain the education you’ve received for the benefit of His people?

I’ve benefited from theology nerds, mothers, entrepreneurs, finance ninjas, mechanics, farmers, pastors, fitness gurus, human resources professionals, construction laborers, IT professionals, programmers, designers, engineers, education staff, missionaries, correctional officers, law enforcement, medical staff, and the list goes on and on and on.

Thank you. Thank you to all who’ve leveraged their education to invest in me and others who once didn’t know God. Thank you for seeing the gift God has given you through the lens of the gospel. Thank you for your time, prayers, and effort. You are storing up for yourself a heavenly inheritance that will never spoil or fade.

Most of all, I thank God who has taken normal people and wielded them in the power of his Spirit to help this high school drop out to discover his call to pastor. I’ll close with Paul’s words to the Philippians after his own comments on the preeminence of Jesus:

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Php. 2:12-13 ESV)

Who will benefit from your gifts? How can you leverage them for the glory of God and the good of his people?

grace & peace.