Friday, April 25, 2014

When Calvin Miller Would Not Let Me Quit

"encourage one another" - 1 Thessalonians 5:11

I began working on my Doctor of Ministry degree at Beeson Divinity School in 2002.  It was a thrill for me to learn from their amazing faculty.  And I thoroughly enjoyed forming new friendships with the students I met.

Things got a little tough for me, however, when I began working on my final project.  I organized and implemented a prayer emphasis in First Baptist Church of Williston, South Carolina.  It lasted for several weeks.  I felt really good about it.  My struggle began when I started the writing my final paper, which documented the prayer emphasis.  I had a hard time writing a good paper, and it was difficult for me to get it approved.  The problem was not the school.  Not at all!  The problem was me.  I simply was not writing at the required standard.

So I quit.

Well, almost.

I reached the point where I thought about throwing in the towel and walking away.  My thought was, "Well, I've learned a lot, and I don't have to graduate from here for this to have been a worth while experience."  I had mostly justified in my mind why dropping out of the program would have been ok for me.

Then Calvin Miller stepped in.

Calvin was a professor there at Beeson.  And he was a favorite among all of us students.  For years, he had been writing fantastic books and preaching unforgettable sermons.  On a personal note, I was blessed to have become friends with him, and I was thankful for it.

One day I was walking on campus and I bumped into Calvin.  He asked me if I had plans for lunch, I told him "No sir", and he took me out to eat.  While we were eating, he looked at me and said, "You know, David, you've come so far in this program.  I'd sure hate to see you quit.  Let me encourage you to stick with it, hang in there, and finish what you started."  As we continued to talk, he assured me that he would help me in any way he could.  I could tell he really wanted me to succeed and graduate.

So I went back home, started working again on my final paper, and finished it.  Shortly after that, I submitted it.  Then I drove back to Beeson and defended it before a panel of professors.  Finally, I was approved by the committee and I graduated.   What a thrill that was for me.  It felt mighty good to finally reach my goal.

Calvin Miller would not let me quit.  He made me believe I could do it.  His words over lunch that day encouraged me to press forward.  And when I got my diploma on that final day, I hugged him and thanked him for inspiring me to persevere.

Since then, Calvin passed away and went home to be with his Lord.  But the lesson he taught me still lingers in my mind.  Still today, I want to encourage others to hang in there, just like Calvin encouraged me to do the same.

Right now, there are people all around this world who want to quit on their marriage, education, job, exercise plan, or life in general.  They're fed up and want to walk away.  In their mind, there is no point in carrying on.

Let's be encouragers!  We can provide support and offer inspiration to those who are tempted to throw in the towel.  We can give them a positive word of affirmation that just may motivate them to try once more.

Encouragement.  People all over the world need it.  So let's be the ones who share it.

What a difference it will make when we don't let people quit

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