Recently I heard a marketing phrase for Colorado Technical Institute that caught my attention. The phrase that resonated with me was, “connecting your education to the market place.” CTI has aptly discerned the buzz of the market as well as the challenge for those of us committed to liberals arts education.
How does a liberal arts education equip your for market place survival? In this post, I attempt to identify three skills that will equip liberal arts learners for the market place in more than one profession. I am indebted to Dr. Jim Bennett from Frontline Ministries for the “gateway” imagery.
The Clearwater Christian College Student: Prepared for the Global Neighborhood
The student who enters the global neighborhood through the gate of Clearwater Christian College will be equipped with three distinctive skills.
First, students will go through the gate of Clearwater with biblical WORD skills. Biblical Word skills include the learned ability of the student to accurately handle the Word of God in all life settings (2 Timothy 2:15). Since Clearwater is uncompromisingly committed to the authority of the Bible, what we teach and how we live will be Word driven. This commitment to the Word necessitates that we teach the student how to discern the intent of the biblical text for both proclamation and practical living (1 Peter 3:15). Faith building of any kind in the discipleship process requires Word skills. Passing through the Clearwater gate, the student will be able to work comfortably in any part of the biblical canon.
Second, students will go through the gate of Clearwater with PEOPLE skills. The command and instructions of the great commission passage in Matthew 28:19-20 focus life on a ministry of the WORD to PEOPLE. The great command passage of Matthew 22:34-40 calls each believer to prioritize life with a love for God and a love for one another. Those in love with the Lord God will by means of the Holy Spirit’s enabling grace model Christ’s love, care, and teaching in their one-another relationships. 1 Thessalonians 2 captures the scope of this care when Paul reminded the Thessalonians that he was gentle among them like a nursing mother (2:7) and then exhorted them like a father (2:11-12).
“Truly Christ-centered education cultivates intellectual empathy, the ability to understand how others think. For example, a student who studies engineering and is fast-tracked through a vocational training program can become a competent designer. Place that same engineer in a broad program of liberal learning, where she will learn to ask the questions that biologists, historians, sociologists, and many others ask, and when that engineer faces challenges in her career, in her public service, or even in her personal life, she can sort through options by employing a range of approaches in thinking, not merely those that derive from an engineer’s training. Not only that, but she will likely have a different ability to be gracious toward others, to demonstrate the personal skills necessary to set others at ease, and to succeed in many areas of life at once.”
“The Great Commandment does not call us merely to empathize with our neighbors; it demands that we love God with every fiber of our being (Mark 12:30). We are to love God with our minds, and we are to love our neighbors as well, which means that intellectual empathy is a moral virtue.”
“For this reason, learning must never be detached from community. The stereotypical ivory tower, where the scholar separates himself from the cares of the world, is definitely not a Christian view of liberal learning, for learning must be dedicated to the glory of God and the service of our neighbors.”
“Likewise, learning must be ready to tackle a variety of academic fields, filling one’s intellectual storehouse with a number of ways of thinking along with a full complement of questions that derive from different fields’ philosophical foundations.” Fant
Third, students will go through the gate of Clearwater with WISDOM skills.
Wisdom is not only valued in the biblical material, it is a desired life skill in the global market place. The Old Testament vocabulary identifies wisdom as skill (Exodus 28:3; 36:2). Specifically, it includes administrative skill (Deuteronomy 1:15) that allows one to make judicial decisions and social skill that enables one to relate positively in society. In addition, wisdom is the skill that allows one to discern the created order of life (Proverbs 25:2). In other words, the one who possesses wisdom understands the properties of the world, the basic order of social relationships, and the authoritative laws of the created order.
The book of Proverbs identifies the fear of the Lord as the means to wisdom. For example Proverbs 1:7 indicates that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. The “beginning” of 1:7 is the choicest part. The fear of the Lord is the choicest part of knowledge; it is the best part of knowledge. Proverbs 9:10 closes out the first major division of Proverbs and identifies the fear of the Lord as the “beginning” of wisdom. The terminology used in this text affirms that the fear of the Lord is the very first thing, the first in a list of things as one pursues wisdom.
Once the value of wisdom is noted in these texts, one is likely to ask, how do I acquire this skill for prosperity in life and relationships? Proverbs 2 details how one acquires wisdom. According to the sequence of conditional statements in 2:1-4, wisdom is skill given by the Lord to the one who will humbly submit to His Word and eagerly seek Him. In other words, wisdom is a skill intimately tied to one’s relationship with the Lord.
Students who pass through the gate of Clearwater Christian college will not only be able to think intensively and critically; will not only be able to have efficiency and effectiveness in their educational major; they will by God’s grace be a morally wholesome person marked by the fear of the Lord. As a result of studying their course work from a biblical perspective and as a result of seeing the beauty and glory of Christ in the created order of their chosen discipline, they will have a healthy gospel informed fear and dread of God and love and trust of God.