“Don’t ask if a man has been through college; ask if college has been through him…” E. H. Chapin
People will often forfeit their ultimate purpose to accomplish minor achievements. The temporary prize appears much easier to attain, the disciplined process is much easier to endure, and the burden is much less weight to carry. The victor is often admired and celebrated in the moment that the trophy is held high above their head, as they receive the applause for success. The true trophy, however, lies beneath the surface of the person in the form of virtues: who have they become in the process?
In other words, our ultimate achievement in this life might only be secondary to what could be the grander prize. Rather than focusing on who we are becoming, we are often side tracked by what we have accomplished. Solomon gave advice to his son: "I will guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble." (Prov. 4:11-12) This passage of scripture offers 3 attributes for the wise: (1) guidance down straight paths; (2) unhampered steps; and (3) failure to stumble. Through relationship with the Father and in the process of life, these 3 attributes are acquired. This passage of scripture is not presenting a temporary prize that can be accomplished in an event. It’s actually presenting the grander value of a virtuous life lived in obedience to the Father. An eternal life much greater than any temporal accomplishment!
For example, weeks ago I was watching an interview with one of cycling’s greatest athletes. Only days prior to the interview the athlete had posted a photo of himself on twitter. There he lay on his couch with seven Tour De France jerseys hanging above him. What an incredible accomplishment for any man to achieve in one life time! The photo displayed incredible discipline and a life devoted to cycling. A price paid that only few could ever comprehend. However, as the interview progressed the yellow jerseys faded into the background as the attention of the interview turned from what he accomplished, to who he had become in the process. He confessed that in his strive to accomplish what no man had ever accomplished in cycling, he was prepared to do what no man was prepared to do; deny his character and integrity for the sake of accomplishment. The real issue was apparent: he never meant to accomplish what he had accomplished. He thought the final prize was more important than the virtuous process. The seven yellow jerseys would never again be raised as a trophy of great accomplishment, but rather, a sad fading reality of what he had become.
Socrates once proclaimed: ‘The unexamined life is not worth living.’
At Hillsong College the process of training and equipping a student is far greater than the final accomplishment. We encourage our students to examine their life, to challenge core beliefs and to guard the heart from where life’s issues flow (Prov. 4:20). Every day presents a new opportunity to glean, to learn and to experience the life lessons that our Lord Jesus Christ brings before us. Many will graduate with a certificate that will hang on their wall as an accomplishment and reminder of their time, energy and effort spent in Sydney Australia. The true value is not in the certificate alone, but rather, who they became in the process!
Don’t ask if a man has been through college; ask if college has been through him…” E. H. Chapin
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