Back in 2004, as I sat in the Chapel of Lincoln Christian University (then College), watching the graduation, a thought jumped into my head that had never occurred to me before. I instantly wanted to go to grad-school. I wanted to attend Seminary at LCU, and I wanted to study counseling. It was at that time that I made plans for 2005 to not be my last year in college. Instead, I applied to start my Masters Degree in the fall.
The first year was all fairly normal. Grad school was different than undergrad, but the basic concepts were the same. Once I finished that first year, it was time to start planning for my thesis, the capstone of the Master of Arts degree. As I finished up my classwork, I met with my advisor and chose a topic. It was soon after that the first speed-bump occurred. I thought I knew what I was doing, but my proposal was returned to me, and my advisor insisted that I was not on the right track. Needless to say, my motivation was subdued, and it was hard to start over. Soon after, God led me to my current ministry in New Hampshire, I got married in early 2009, and the thesis took a seat in the trunk (not even the backseat).
I was constantly “working” on it, though, as I gathered research here and there. However, it was not something I diligently tried to finish. I kept renewing my registration year after year, telling the administration that I hoped to finish soon, but I knew that was probably not the case. Life and ministry took a priority over this 75-100 page research paper. That was until late summer 2012. The school stated that I had one more year to re-register, before they made me re-enroll altogether. That was the motivation I needed, and I immediately got to work.
Over the past nine months, I have read more books than I ever thought possible. I began to stay up late, writing page after page, as if I were back in college again. In fact, our basement began to look like a dorm room with pizza boxes, papers, and soda cans everywhere. I think I even put on a “freshmen 15″ again. Through many sleepless nights, often right beside my wife, who was doing the same in an effort to also finish her M.A., the day finally came when I finished. All 99 pages were printed and shipped off to the school. That is when the anxiety began. After 26 years of being in school, your mind gets accustomed to homework deadlines. So, even though I was finished, my mind would often not let me relax, because I thought I still had something to do.
Then, it was all made official when my wife and I walked across the stage at LCU on May 18, 2013, to receive our degree, hood, and towel (symbolizing Jesus’ servant-leader example). It was a surreal moment, and it feels like a complete blur, honestly. Nonetheless, it happened, and I have the photos, videos, and actual degree to prove it. I would be lying if I said I never had doubts. There were many times when I did feel like giving up, even though that is not my typical personality. It was tough, but in the end, it was worth it. All the persistence paid off!
In my thesis, I had a preface, where I was able to thank those who helped me along the way. I thanked my grandfather, who was, in many ways, my spiritual mentor through my elementary and teenage years. It has been hard to not have him with me through all three of my graduations, but I know I will be able to see him again someday and tell him all about it, and thank him in person. I also thanked my wife and my church for putting up with me over the past several months, when I was unable to fully be a husband and minister. Beyond that, I want to end with a prayerful thanks to my Holy God, who helped me all throughout the process. Honestly, if it was up to me, I probably would have quit a few months or years ago. It is Him that I live for, and I pray that He will use this degree for His kingdom.
Officially, my M.A. is in General Ministry, with a focus in Youth Ministry and Counseling. For those of you who would like to take a look into my thesis process, and a bit about the entire project, check out the Thesis Page on this site. I kept a log of my progress, included all my research sources, and have a short paragraph explaining the main idea of the thesis. I might update it a bit more, but essentially, the project belongs to the school, so I am unable to publish it myself. With that being said, I am willing to send you a PDF of the project if, for some reason, you would like to read it yourself.