Eric Thomas is a recent graduate of the Bachelor of Divinity degree program at CLI’s Leadership Excellence School. Eric’s story shows us that it is never too late to pursue God’s plan for your life. Although he had previously given up hope of continuing his education, Christian Leaders Institute provided him with an opportunity he did not know was possible.
College Out of the Question
As I’m nearing the end of my classes for my Bachelor of Divinity Degree, I give thanks to God and to Christian Leaders Institute (CLI) for making this possible. I’ll be fifty-five years old in a few months, and had given up hope of continuing my education.
When I graduated high school, I knew I wasn’t going to college. I always had passing grades, but I never really applied myself to my studies. I was raised in a single parent home so financially, college was out of the question. A few years later, I got married and began to raise a family. I’ve had well-paying jobs because of some vocational training and a few college courses, but I was never able to advance in the company because of my lack of education.
Appreciation for CLI
At this point in my life, a middle-aged grandfather turning gray, I’m serious about living for God, my education, and becoming a ministry leader. I’m so excited about finally receiving an Associate and Bachelor’s degree. I would love to pursue a Master’s Degree, but whether I do or not, I will be continuing to take classes here at CLI. Again, I want to reiterate how much I appreciate Christian Leaders Institute. None of this would have been possible without this school. Not only has it given me an education, but it has also given me self-confidence – both in my present vocation and to lead a ministry.
Never Too Late
The education I’m receiving has not only impacted my life, but my family, friends, and coworkers as well. I’m a perfect example that it’s never too late to pursue an education or to change your lifestyle and live for Christ! I want to be a mentor and role model for everyone around me. This is all part of God’s plan for my life! If I started a ministry without training, I wouldn’t be successful. My wife and I have started a non-profit ministry for the poor and the elderly. Without my education, I wouldn’t have as much of an impact for Christ. I know I still have a lot to learn, but as I continue to study God’s Word and take courses at CLI, I can make an impact. I have a lot of time and missed opportunities to make up for.
While Eric acknowledges that he has time and opportunities to make up for going forward, this realization re-emphasizes that it is never too late to live into God’s plan for his life.
Appreciation for Creation
One of my favorite classes was Astronomy. I love studying the planets and the galaxies. How can anyone say there is no God or that God is not in control? Every day the sun rises and sets, and at night, the moon and the stars shine their lights. Astronomy is the study of God’s beautiful glory, and it reminds us of the creation story in Genesis. Every year my family and I go to Florida for vacation. I’ve seen the beautiful sunrises on the east coast and the beautiful sunsets on the west coast. Those would not be possible without God’s total control of His creation. I view all of God’s creation as an act of love. He loves us so much that he gave us all of this beauty to enjoy and to study. The older I get, the more I love and appreciate creation.
Eric’s growing love for creation shows us that is never too late to notice new blessings in the world around us.
Learning to Lead
The Leadership class was the most challenging for me because it’s hard for me to recognize what leadership qualities I possess. I’ve never considered myself a leader, however, I have to break out of the “I can’t do this!” mold. I need to tell myself that with God’s help and my education, I can be a great leader. Like Moses, I am not a good public speaker and I get nervous in social situations. This is a fear that has plagued me for most of my adult life, and it seems to be getting worse the older I become. I’ve prayed for this fear to be replaced with the love of public speaking, and to be able to share God’s love in a group setting. I don’t believe God’s plan for my life is to become a pastor of a church. However, I do believe He wants me to become a ministry leader and to share His love and compassion for the lost to the best of my ability.
Ministry is Everywhere
In the past, I always thought of a ministry as a brick and mortar church with a pastor and a congregation. I’ve come to recognize that a ministry can be anywhere, any place and anytime. I can be a minister, a mentor, or role model to my family, coworkers, or a stranger on the street. There are ministry opportunities everywhere! There’s no shortage of people that need to be ministered to in this evil world we live in. They just need someone to tell them about the love of Christ. As Christians, it’s necessary to show God’s love wherever we are: at work, at a restaurant, or even walking down the street. Not only do I want to be a ‘Vocal Witness’ but I want to be a ‘Physical Witness’ as well – a witness to God’s love and compassion through my actions.
As mentioned earlier, my wife and I have started a ministry for the poor, the elderly, or anyone who needs financial assistance in our community. Although I don’t plan on becoming a pastor of a church, I plan to use what I’ve learned in my CLI courses to help me become a godly leader for our ministry. As my wife and I start our ministry journey together, please pray for us. Pray that I can become the leader God wants me to be, and that lives will be touched through our ministry. Please also pray that God will strengthen our walk.