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A Collage of 7 Lessons

7 LESSONS I LEARNT FROM MY MASTER’S DEGREE EXPERIENCE
#iRemember | Episode 329
 
It’s no more news that I graduated from my MA in Biblical and Pastoral Theology last Friday. On the morning of the graduation, I picked up my phone almost after I woke up and scribbled down six lessons I learnt in the experience. This morning, I revisit my jottings to edit them and add one more point.
 
1. The Bible is infallible and inerrant.
Whether we like it or not, the world (especially the Western world) is becoming increasingly secularised and post-Christian. We are surrounded by a worldly secular system in which all truth is relative and in which there are no absolutes. As such, the Bible is both openly and subtly undermined or attacked. Many are beginning to accept it as one more way to look at the world without giving it an adequate acknowledgement regarding its divine authority which is “simply passed over, ignored, flippantly popularized or dismissed with a tolerant smile” (to use John MacArthur’s words).
 
The Biblical side of my MA programme got me questioning many things I’d assumed as being true (eg, that Paul wrote all the epistles we traditionally ascribe to him) but landed me back at the shores of the age-worn truth: God’s Word is infallible and inerrant!
 
Infallible signifies the quality of neither misleading nor being misled and so safeguards in categorical terms the truth that Holy Scripture is a sure, safe, and reliable rule and guide in all matters. Similarly, Inerrant signifies the quality of being free from all falsehood or mistake and so safeguards the truth that Holy Scripture is entirely true and trustworthy in all its assertions.
 
That is not to say that there couldn’t/wouldn’t have been errors in copying and recopying the original manuscripts, but the original manuscripts are inerrant and what we have today in whichever language is capable of preserving and delivering unto us the whole counsel of God.
 
All that to say this: You can trust your Bible as God’s inspired words to you.
 
2. Failure is a part of life.
I already shared with you in previous posts how I failed a particular module by 1 mark and had to do a reassessment. The lesson here is that failure is not shameful. There are life lessons which only failure can teach you in such a way that you will get it. Don’t despise your failures; celebrate them!
 
3. Start early.
It is a wise counsel to start whatever it is you are venturing into as early as you can as much as it lies in your power. Why linger when you know you’re going to do it anyway?
 
For reasons beyond my control, I started my MA 5 weeks after others have resumed and within that 5 weeks they’ve completed the course that would be the foundation for the MA (called MA Thinking Skills). That gap kept reflecting on my assessments. It took a few assessments to be able to come to the point of thinking critically enough at the level expected of Masters students in the field of my study.
 
In another sense, there was only one assessment that I could remember submitting before the deadline; every other one, I submitted ON the deadline date. The reason is the same: I just never start writing my essays on time (in the name of having so many things on my plate). It is a good practice to embrace this counsel as a life principle: the earlier you start, the better.
 
4. Just Start.
This is different than the previous point. We all have stuff we desire to do but are simply humanly beyond our comprehension of possibilities, but we must never allow anything whatsoever to stop us from venturing into what God has in store for us.
 
When I was going to begin this programme, I had no idea of where I would raise £10,800. It’s just unthinkable. At some point, the school finance invited me for a discussion in which if nothing happened in 2 days, I’ll be reported to the Home Office and deported, but even in the heat of that, God proved to me yet again that ‘impossible’ is still His favourite word.’
 
5. Give your best and leave the rest to God.
My first degree was in Microbiology, and so there is already a gap in venturing into a Masters degree in a field in which my only previous knowledge is largely personal studies and the experience I had at the 9-month Bible College program I did in Bradford. But the gap notwithstanding, I gave my best. I didn’t finish with a distinction (no one did in my class), but rather with a Merit. Yet, in the light of the research I undertook for my MA Dissertation, the school invited me to join a bunch of Professors and Doctors to design the curriculum for a new Masters Degree programme the University is about to commence (an MA in African Christianity). It was such a great honour meeting a good number of the scholars whose works I’d only read and cited from electronic sources in a real-time scenario, brainstorming together to shape a curriculum that will shape another generation of scholars. That experience is opening doors within doors for which I’m grateful to God.
 
All that to say do your best, and leave God to honour your efforts in the ways that He deems best fitting.
 
6. There is a huge task lying upon the shoulders of African Christianity.
My MA dissertation explored the journey of Christianity from the West to Africa (and the global South generally) through the efforts of missionaries and how many Africans are returning to the West bringing back the Christianity they brought to us (as they are now so secularised that Christianity is practically dying in their sphere with more and more people claiming to have no religion in countries that used to be heavily Christian). However, looking at how many Africans are doing church here in the UK (for instance), if care is not taken, we will not fulfil God’s mandate to us to become an agent of re-evangelisation of the West. African ministers in the diaspora will need to be intentional about learning how to do cross-cultural mission if their church plants in the West will last beyond 2-3 generations.
(It’s okay if that point doesn’t make sense to you. But if you are an African Christian, understand that you are part of the fastest-growing Christian movement in the world and God is counting on us to be actively involved in the end-time harvest of souls into His kingdom).
 
7. Let God’s Glory be your motivation.
Whatever you set out to do, if your motivation isn’t in alignment with being able to glorify God, you are definitely in the wrong.
 
My motivation for doing a Masters transcends an opportunity to stay a little longer in the UK. Surely it goes beyond just wanting to add that to my ‘achievements’. The sincere truth is that at the very base of this pursuit is the desire to be able to better understand the scriptures through the eyes of different worldviews, and as such be able to think clearer thoughts and write/speak clearer words to a wider range of people so that my circumference of reaching people with God’s truth can be wider and more people can be blessed. Besides, there were specific modules that taught me better Pastoral skills and different avenues for development so that at the end of the day, I’m more equipped to equip others with that which I gleaned in my journey through this phase.
 
I hope this helps someone.
 
josephkolawoleola.
 
#iRemember is a daily mentoring retrospective look at Chronicles of our past—my wife and I—drawing life lessons from past experiences. It is exclusive to members of Alive Mentorship Group—an online mentorship platform for young adults across the world that provides an avenue to learn practical life lessons across geographical barriers. If you will like to be a part, just click here and/or get added to the Telegram group here.
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