ESN is delighted to share wisdom on continuing in the journey of higher education from Dr. Claudette Ligons, and to highlight the work of InterVarsity’s Black Scholars and Professionals (BSAP). BSAP, a national ministry within InterVarsity, recently hosted its fifth annual conference in Cambridge, MA. Dr. Ligons spoke on persevering and growing in the academic life, a topic very relevant to emerging scholars. Dr. Ligons also has the distinction of a 100% graduation rate among the Ed.D. students she has supported through the dissertation process at Texas Southern University. Today she wraps up her four part series. You can find Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here.
Celebrating Small Victories
I present this final area for your consideration because I think it fosters attitudes of thanksgiving. It is so easy to ignore small victories. Because I recognize that discontentment is really a form of dissatisfaction with the way God is blessing us. It is a form of murmuring whether we speak it or just engage in negative meditation about it. There are good things that happen to us every day! If we’re not careful, we overlook them and reserve the expression of our gratitude for the big stuff. Actually, unless we have learned to be grateful for little, we are not likely to express gratitude for the really big stuff.
This progression functions in faith formation as well. Sometimes believers think that prayer is unimportant for little annoyances and little problems. They don’t bother God about the little stuff because they can handle it. The Word says, “It’s the little foxes that spoil the vine” (Sos 2:15). In other words, if we fail to mature in our faith as we pray and see God’s faithfulness in the little things, then we will have faith failures in the big things because we have not seen the pattern of His faithfulness over little things. If we haven’t believed concerning the little things, we lack the capacity to be confident over the big things. Do you remember David’s story, David the Shepherd boy? He didn’t begin his faith walk with that giant-sized Philistine. God demonstrated His faithfulness with the lion and the bear. So, by the time the Israelites needed a giant-slayer, David was trained and ready. He had been equipped in the earlier experiences because he had seen God’s great faithfulness. God is no respecter of persons (Ro 2:11). If He could slay David’s giant, He can slay ours. Nothing is too hard for God (Jer 32:27). He is not intimidated by anything we will ever encounter. This is the All Knowing—Omniscient God. He has seen into our every tomorrow. How could we think our wisdom is higher than His, that our solutions to problems are more relevant that His? He is trustworthy. Indeed, He is the same God yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8). In the academy, I invite you to entrust your small and large problems to Him. He can fight your battles (2 Chr 20:17) and He can teach your hands to war (Ps 144:1). You can function in the highest levels of excellence if you allow Him to teach you how to live in the natural and supernatural arenas to accomplish great and mighty things.
To recap, we talked about strength for the journey through three themes: Planning for Victory, Prayerfully; Reducing Your Load for Strength Enhancement; and Celebrating Small Victories. Each of these has import for maturing you in your walk with Him and supporting your success in the academy of scholars. Colleagues, it has been my pleasure to address you this morning. As I close, this is my prayer for you from Col 1:9-12:
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,
11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully
12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.