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Questions to Consider (Student Edition): Where Am I Going?

July 18, 2022

by Greg Henson, CEO, Kairos University and President, Sioux Falls Seminary

When you are thinking about joining Kairos or when you are first beginning your journey, it can be helpful to consider a few important questions. Last week, we shared the first question which was “Why am I here?” With that question, we asked you to reflect on why you want to begin a program and call attention to the fact that your journey through a program with Kairos will be different from educational experiences you have had in the past. If you aren’t interested in expanding or deepening your understanding of God and of the invitation to participate in God’s work, then you may find Kairos frustrating at times.

Today, we are going to look at the next question which is, “Where am I going?”

When trying to compare the Kairos journey to traditional educational processes, we said that it is a bit more like backpacking through Europe than a pre-arranged bus tour. On a pre-arranged bus tour, you are going to be more passive than active. The tour guide and bus driver have a specific schedule and pre-determined stops along the way, and their goal is to provide the same experience for everyone who comes on the tour – every time. When you are backpacking through Europe, the journey still has particular destinations but the path you take is much more flexible. Among other things, you have the freedom to set the pace, choose which waypoints you might visit along the way to your destination, and consider who might come with you on that journey.

Your journey through a program with Kairos has similar aspects. The destinations are the various program outcomes. You get to invite some mentors to join you along the way and the particular path you take will be unique to you. Given that conceptualization of the journey, it might seem odd for us to ask the question “Where are you going?” because it seems as though the destination has already been determined – your destinations are the outcomes.

When we are asking the question “where are you going” we are inviting you to reflect on those outcomes. What do they mean? Are they destinations you wish to visit? How do those destinations fit with your reasons for enrolling in the program in the first place? It is an invitation to think about where this journey will take you, why you want to go there, and whether or not this journey will indeed get you where you want to go. For example, if you want to pursue a career in software engineering, the destinations (i.e., the outcomes) you pursue should help to move you in that direction. If you want to integrate your faith with your work as a real estate agent, the outcomes should provide an opportunity for that to occur. The list could go on. If you are enrolling in Kairos simply to grow in your faith or pursue ordination or develop and hone church planting skills – the outcomes need to help you with that.

One of the best aspects of Kairos is that you can customize the journey you are taking so that it helps you flourish in your vocation. We have had pastors, church planters, missionaries, fighter pilots, real estate brokers, doctors, firefighters, retirees, worship leaders, therapists, and much more graduate from Kairos.

As you begin, take some time to think about where you are going. This will help you think about the degree program you may want to pursue, the adaptations you may want to make, and, perhaps most importantly, what it means to flourish.

The point about flourishing is an important one. As you probably noted on our website, we often use the phrase “follow Jesus, flourish in your vocation.” Our hope is that in your time with Kairos you will grow in your knowledge of God and develop proficiency that will help you flourish in your daily life as a follower of Jesus.

The word “flourishing” can be somewhat confusing because often we haven’t spent time thinking about what that means. As you begin your journey with Kairos, we invite you to take that time – to think about what it means to flourish in your vocation – because your answers to that question will inform the path you take.

For example, if you hope to pursue ordination in a particular denomination after earning your Master of Divinity, it will be helpful to think about what is required for ordination in that denomination. Do you need to demonstrate proficiency in Greek and Hebrew? Are there certain theological topics or movements within particular Christian traditions you need to study? Are there certain types of people that need to be involved in your journey? Other questions to consider could be ones like: Are there certain skills, attitudes, or dispositions that characterize someone who is flourishing? How is success defined within the denomination? Do you share that definition of success?

Similar questions could be asked if you are pursuing a degree to develop or hone your leadership skills as a business or nonprofit leader. Do you need to demonstrate proficiency in certain areas (e.g., strategic thinking, budgeting, etc.)? Are there certain topics that are important (e.g., conflict resolution, communication, faith-based economics, etc.)?

The point is that the questions “where are going?” and “why are you here?” are deeply interconnected. There is an unending array of topics you could study or skills you could develop while on your journey with Kairos. We are inviting you to give some thought to the idea that your goals should inform your path. When you have your goals in mind, you can more easily know when you have arrived (i.e., finished).

When you are backpacking through Europe, you begin with a map, some waypoints or destinations, and some idea of how you will know you that have arrived at those destinations. The same is true for your journey through a program with Kairos. You have a map and some destinations (the outcomes). You need to do some thinking to articulate how you will know when you have arrived at those destinations.

In our next article, we will ask the question, “Where have you been?” Join us next week to see how that question can be a helpful way to think about the journey you are taking.

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