Questions to Consider (Student Edition): Where Have I Been?

July 25, 2022

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

If you have been following along in this blog series, you will note that today’s article is the fourth installment. We began by introducing the idea that the Kairos journey is often different than previous educational experiences that students may have had. As a result, we have identified a few questions that are often helpful for people to consider at the beginning of their journey or even before they enroll. The first question was “Why are you here?” and the second was “Where are you going?” The question before us today is “Where have you been?”

In his book, “You Are What You Love,” James K.A. Smith calls attention to the idea that each of us is shaped and formed by many things – experiences, people, daily practices, etc. The list could go on forever. One way to think about this in simple terms is to recognize that where we have been has an impact on where we might go and how we might progress through that journey.

While those ideas shared by Smith are helpful, it can be a bit overwhelming to try and answer the question “Where have you been?” That seems like an awfully big question. There are so many different directions to go with that question. To help you, here are a few specific questions or areas of reflection that students have found particularly helpful over the years.

What experiences have led me to enroll in a program with Kairos?
The experiences that have led you to consider and/or enroll in a program are important. Often, they provide the intrinsic motivation required to succeed in one of our degree programs. What are those experiences for you? Did something in your walk with Christ spark a desire to grow in your faith and earn a degree? Maybe you were recently asked to lead something and feel you need some support to do that well.

Where have I already been and what have I learned?
No one enters Kairos with a blank slate. That is to say that you are starting this journey with some level of experience, knowledge, etc. Take a few moments to reflect on what that might be. When you do, however, be intentional about identifying what you have learned – not simply what you have done. For example, don’t write down, “I have been a pastor for eight years” or “I am a certified financial planner” or “I have completed several training sessions for my job.” Simply listing the task that you have completed or the work that you have done is not the same thing as listing what you have learned. If you have significant experience in leadership, what have you learned from that experience? Perhaps it is something about working with people or building strategy or working with others. If you need a guide for what to think about, consider looking at the outcomes we list for the program you are considering. For example, you could review the outcomes for the Master of Divinity listed in the “program breakdown” section of this page. What have you learned in those areas? Who has watched you learn those things and could vouch for the fact that you have learned them? What experiences have helped you learn them?

What questions am I bringing with me on this journey?
Just like no one comes with a blank slate, no one comes as a finished product, either. What do you hope to learn? Where do you need to grow? What breaks your heart and how will this journey through Kairos help you along the way? If you don’t come with any questions, that is to say, if you are not entering Kairos with some level of openness or curiosity you will struggle throughout the program. What do you hope God shows you while you are on this journey? What questions are driving your desire to think deeply about what it means to follow Jesus and flourish in your vocation?

What story is shaping me?
Finally, take a few moments to think about what story or stories have influenced your life. For example, have you spent time in churches within a particular denomination or tradition (e.g., Baptist, Lutheran, Non-denominational, etc.)? Are there certain aspects of where you have lived that have had an impact on you (e.g., a particular geographic area)? Have you lived in urban, rural, or suburban settings? For example, if you are a Latino mother who is active in your local non-denominational church, run a business in Los Angeles, CA, and have always lived in the urban settings of southern California, your story and the impact it has had on you is going to be much different than if you were a young, single dad who has always lived in rural Illinois and attended United Methodist churches. As you begin, it is helpful to reflect on your story and how it has influenced you because those questions will be important as you progress through the program. While you work through the various outcomes in Kairos, you will be asked to think critically about what proficiency looks like in your context and to think about your particular experience of the Christian faith and how it interacts with or differs from others. To answer these questions, it is helpful to first take time to think about your own story.

Your journey through Kairos is the next step in your walk with Christ – the next chapter of your story. Thinking about where you have been will give you a better understanding of where you need to go and why you began. It will also give you insight into where to begin your journey. That’s what we will look at next week!


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