Article, "Doctorate and Discipleship"

This month a year ago, I got my Doctorate. Academic success. A pinnacle of sort. What makes it special was that I was mentored by the best Ph.D's around. So very few survived in my batch. I'm thankful that I was one of the survivors!

The doctorate was desirable. But to tell you the truth, nobody needs it to feel valuable. I do not need it to feel good about my existence. When I'm reminded of the fact that I'm God's child created in His image, then anything such as this is so much less than reality.

People are fond of thrills as substitutes to real,lasting satisfaction. If not academic success, flashy cars, fashion dresses, luxury cruises, public fame, beautiful women around. Why do people get attached to these things? Because people like to feel good about themselves. They want to feel valuable. If we actually know who we really are, then there's no reason to cling to these temporal crutches. No need to pretend to be something else.

Thinking about my doctorate this afternoon reminds me of the importance of spiritual foundations in discipleship. The wise man in Jesus' parable built his house on the foundation of the rock. Thus, it will survive because of the kind of foundation laid down. Jesus, when training His disciples, always talked about character and ended up
talking about foundations.

A doctorate is nothing if it's about merely knowing. Jesus said that those who put knowledge to practice are building true, lasting foundations. As James said, "If we hear the word and do nothing, we deceive ourselves .... (James 1: 22-25). How sad to see many overly educated professionals in our society who fall short of this!

My bottom line: After I got my doctorate, I had to go back to reality and deliberately rebuild my spiritual foundations. What a timely, gracious call of God in my life!