Graduating Mature Adults


For many schools around the country, whether high school or college, Spring Break is winding down. Students at various grade levels have had a chance to sleep in, visit family, catch up on assignments, and perhaps devote a few more hours to their job. That is certainly the case here at Bethlehem College & Seminary. Now, however, as this week comes to a close, students are either getting ready to return to campus or are already back and using the weekend to complete assignments and prepare for Monday classes.

As I think about those students today, my mind turns to our graduating seniors. The last half of their last semester is upon them. From here, they will launch into all sorts of endeavors. Some will decide they want further education and additional degrees. Others are satisfied with the education they have and are ready to think about a career. A number of students are contemplating a move overseas, while still others are preparing for marriage. Whatever comes next for these seniors, my prayer in this moment is that we have served them well and that by the time commencement arrives, those who know them best will see men and women who are not who they once were. They’ve grown. They have matured. By the power of the Spirit, they have been shaped in God-honoring and Christ-exalting ways.

This Spirit-wrought growth through the means of our intense academic program and robust community life is a promise we make on the front end to prospective students. It is the aim of our Education in Serious Joy. We want men and women to grow up into mature adults who are ready to witness for Christ with wisdom and wonder for the rest of their lives. As we study the great books of history and engage with ideas that have shaped the world, all through the lens of the greatest book (i.e., the Bible), we are trying to prepare people to live out the Great Commission in every walk of life. 

What you hear in the ideas above flows out of a philosophy of education that goes beyond mere vocational training. We do not conceive of the educational task as simply preparing people for a job. Instead, a liberal arts education at Bethlehem College & Seminary aims to prepare people for the world, not just for work. Our role as educators aims at creating adults. We want to raise godly men and women who make a disproportionate, Christ-exalting impact at home, in the church, and for the world. That type of formative experience is what our graduating seniors have lived and breathed for the last four years. By God’s grace, we’ve kept our promise to help these men and women mature.

How do we know if we’ve succeeded? Well, time will tell. But perhaps certain “tells” or “signs” would alert parents, family members, friends, and employers that a graduate is mature or maturing. One way of defining maturity is to speak of sober-mindedness. Dr. Rigney, the President of Bethlehem College & Seminary, defines sober-mindedness as a stability of soul, clarity of mind, and readiness to act. Given the above definition, if we have succeeded in helping students mature, they will have a stability of soul. That is, they know who and whose they are. Therefore, they are not blown around by the winds of a fallen world. Second, these students are able to cut through the confusion of the age and think clearly (and biblically). Finally, a mature man or woman is ready to engage a world that will present challenges and opportunities. The picture that emerges is a student who is stable, thoughtful, and ready for all of life. Our hope is that our graduates are marked by such realities.

Given everything we are aiming for and the vision of education I’ve painted, I’d like to do two things. First, I want to ask you to pray. Ask the Lord to help all of our students continue maturing until Christ returns or calls them home. Pray also that God would use the men and women of Bethlehem for the joy of all peoples and the fame of Jesus’ name. Second, if the type of educational experience described above is intriguing and compelling to you, tell others about us. We are eager to become part of the college conversation as people consider their future educational endeavors. Or, perhaps, you might consider applying to study at Bethlehem. We would love to consider your application and see if you might fit and flourish at our school. 

Jonathon Woodyard, ThM
Dean of Admission & Assistant Professor of Theology and History


Prayer Requests: 

  1. Pray that the Lord will help all of our students continue maturing until Christ returns or calls them home. 
  2. Pray that God would use the men and women of Bethlehem for the joy of all peoples and the fame of Jesus’ name. 
  3. Ask the Lord whether he might lead you to tell others about Bethlehem College & Seminary or to apply yourself. 
  4. Pray for the provision of the 102 remaining scholarships that will allow us to graduate students who are ready to launch into life and ministry without the financial burden of student debt.
  5. Pray that God would guide the steps of the students and their families who will join us for Spring Preview Day.