Current Events youth

The Truly Amazing Kwasi Enin


Neal Pollard

How often does the college application process for a single student make the front page of a national paper like USA Today?  It happened on Tuesday, April 1, 2014.  The feature centered around the academic ambitions of a Shirley, New York, Senior, whose academic future would seem secure and assumably provided for.  He made history when last week he opened an acceptance letter from Harvard University.  That alone is impressive, but that letter made it complete. Every single one of the eight Ivy League colleges formally accepted Kwasi Enin as a student.  It is amazing that Kwasi would apply to all of them, and almost unheard of to be “invited to attend them all” (Greg Toppo, 1 A, 4/1/14).   His guidance counselor said, “It’s a big deal when we have students apply to one or two Ivies. To get into one or two is huge. It was extraordinary” (ibid.).

So maybe our congregation does not have any academic prodigies like Kwasi Enin.  With all due and considerable respect, we have something even better.  We have a large repository of talent and spirituality in our midst among our youth and teens.  Their dreams are endless.  They dare to do great things, ask friends to services, stand up for their faith, share profound spiritual thoughts, and much more that we, as adults, find jaw-dropping.  They reach for the sky because they are too young to be bothered with such mole hills as worry, fear, and limitation!  They believe they can change the world and make it a better place and their faith in Christ can put some of ours to shame.

When Paul tells Timothy to let no one look down on him because he is young (1 Tim. 4:12), he is speaking to us, too.  Our youth have growing and maturing to do.  They will accrue wisdom and experience in the process of time.  But, may we help nurture their enthusiasm and stoke their optimism.  They need to keep it.  We need them to keep it.  With dark days ahead, we will depend on the faith and valiant efforts of today’s youth!  May we recognize how truly amazing they are and help them see how important they are to God’s work.


attitude character

Eliot’s Motto

Neal Pollard

The president of Harvard University in the last part of the 19th Century, Charles Eliot, had for his motto the words of Edward Everett Hale. Hale had said, “Look up and not down; look out and not in; look forward and not back, and lend a hand” (McCullough, Mornings on Horseback, 197).  While Eliot was renowned for being in his own world and not being very observant of students or others, his motto was extraordinary!

The practice of that motto would do wonders for our world.  If all of us, as Christians, could translate the sentiment of those words into daily practice, we would keep the waters of baptism stirring.  These words, properly understand, call for divine dependency, unselfishness, vision, and service.  If I understand the help God gives me, I will reach out in faith.  If I understand my need to be concerned for the other person before I worry about myself, I will reach out in love.  If I understand the importance of forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I will reach out in hope.  If I understand the importance of my being useful and cooperative, I will reach out in service.

Hale did not invent these ideas.  He commandeered them from the greatest source of inspiration and motivation possible—the Bible.  In fact, consider these same profound concepts just from the Philippian epistle. Paul says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (4:13).  He says, “With lowliness of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (2:3b; cf. 2:4).  He says that forgetting the past and reaching for the future, he could “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (3:13-14).  Throughout the letter, he urges these Christians to think about others and help them.

Taking on the challenge of that motto is not easy, but how rewarding it is!  How it rewards us is incidental; that is, we will receive joy in looking up, out, and forward. Yet, it will be rewarding for the many who will be touched and blessed because we had such a large view of life.  What is your motto?