2019 2nd Place Christian Studies Winner
July 9th, 2019
Truth: The Route to God and Christian Leadership
By: Mary Beauchamp
Truth is the path to God—only it brings us to Him. Attending a faithful Christian college provides a clear opportunity for finding Truth, and in turn, transforming students into humble yet powerful leaders that the world can depend on. This opportunity is one that I long for. It is true Christian colleges are not safe havens from suffering, but they encourage students to seek Truth through God above all things. As explained by Thom Seagren, president of Christian Connector, there are “challenges to overcome at [any] Christian college in terms of faith, lifestyle, and ethical choices,” but these are places where students know their professors care about their personal development rather than just their academic profile. These are places that aid students seeking their God-given vocations. These are places which encourage students to remain strong in their faith rather than to distance themselves from God. And these are the institutions which can encourage students to become leaders that will positively influence their community with their foundation of faith in God and respect for human dignity.
I have visited several Catholic colleges on my quest to find my God-given path. Each college I visited had a certain atmosphere of joy and love surrounding it. Benedictine College students provided my family directions when we were lost. Belmont Abbey College students paid for our lunches, and the Franciscan University of Steubenville students never failed to smile and make eye contact when walking past. There is a solemn Truth to these students’ generosity, deference, and compassion. They were leaders to me, and because of their kindness, I desire to also be a Christian leader.
According to Christian-leadership.org, leadership is “not about a position, it is about a role and it emerges from a Christ-like servant heart”. This describes the actions of students at these colleges perfectly. Although they are not formal leaders, in their humility, they reached out lovingly to guide me, and their stewardship in Christ has formed them into servant leaders. These are the types of leaders who can touch many hearts with few words and many kind actions, positively enhancing morality in the United States. I know that if I attend any of these schools, my peers will support me and I, them. Adversities will be easier to face as I will not face them alone. The support of my peers will uplift me, giving me the chance to become a leader confident in my abilities, but humbled by God. Most importantly, I will not be isolated in and because of my faith.
A stark contrast to Christian colleges, secular institutes seem to break students down, shattering their dignity and morale rather than improving their character. While passing secular universities, I notice the students first. Some walk with heads down, staring at their phones. They seem indifferent, lost. Others walk with friends, jesting and occupied. They seem alive, yet are unwelcoming and focus only inwards. The students stick with those they know. They are not a family. Instead, they live under an oligarchy where certain views are not accepted and leaders are formed with hateful bias. Dr. Jim Harris, a home construction entrepreneur with a Ph.D. in Communications, teaches that “Christian business leaders engage the soul of employees” and “build great connections with team members”, creating a positive impact on their employees who in turn are able to spread this love to their community. The opposite seems true of secular college leaders. My brother experienced this at the university he attends, sacrificing his grade to defend Christian tradition against a partial and overbearing professor. It hurts to know that, abandoned by Truth, some of these secular students “will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, through the pretensions of liars whose consciences are seared” (Revised Standard Version, 1 Tim. 4:1-2). Many of the leaders that arise from secular colleges alienated, ignorant, or angry at God are challenged by their disconnect with people. This does not hold true for Christian leaders. Atheist and New York University professor Jonathan Haidt commented in a speech at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities that his Christian students “radiated a kind of sweetness, a kind of warmth and gentleness and humility that [he] hadn’t seen before” which allowed him to open his mind and in turn, his heart to their message. Although he did not convert due to interactions with them, their love “touched [his] heart” and helped him to admire rather than despise them. This is the power Christian leaders have above secular leaders. Their care and respect for all those made in God’s image brings them closer to people, allowing them to be effective and charismatic communicators whereas many secular leaders do not have this unwavering love for humanity.
Currently, I am attending a public high school where progressivism dominates. It saddens me to walk the hallways, observing the indifference of others. It agonizes me to be told to conform to their beliefs and their standards. And it tears my heart painfully to hear teachers joke about Christianity even as they encourage tolerance and diversity of all things. Unlike Christian leaders, these leaders are not always fair with their students. Liz Smith, a production coordinator, describes Christian leaders as “open and real with clients” to foster “trust in [their] relationships” and to “lead with integrity”. Secular leaders do not always act in truth as this may not benefit them. Christian leaders, however, are honest as their eyes are on heaven, not on worldly success and money. This honesty inspires their clients to also act in goodwill and sincerity toward others, creating a ripple effect of positive waves. At my public high school, I have suffered through deprivation from Truth. Disappointingly, this is a natural phenomenon across the nation. Thom Seagren writes that while attending secular schools, “people of Christian faith are often not respected and even ridiculed for their beliefs.” I yearn to escape this ridicule, to stand against the immersion of scholarly secularism into society. However, attending a public school has not worn down my faith in God. Instead, it has left me with a greater longing for the Truth present at Christian colleges and a role where I can stand up for humanity and lead in God’s love.
English writer and Catholic convert G. K. Chesterton once said “a dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.” This applies perfectly to Christian leaders. With pressure from secular businesses and a materialistic society, it is difficult to counteract the present immorality with Truth and easy to “go with the flow”, mirroring the sinful behaviors of the world. Christian colleges, however, teach student to fight the ways of the world, forming their faith into a bulwark against the impurities of the world and giving them a base to become unique and loving leaders in the world. Truth in God will be made into their stronghold and with it, they can defend their beliefs confidently by using their positions of leadership to improve society. I long for an education which will nourish my relationship with God, build me into an extraordinary leader, and allow me to set Truth free. At true Christian colleges, this education is certain.
About the Author
Mary Beauchamp has been accepted to Benedictine College, a Catholic College located in Atchison, Kansas–class of 2023.