Academic Goals



Some ministers seek an academic degree as a stepping stone into ministry but never develop any additional academic goals. We recommend developing life-long learning goals for all ministers.

Peterson. (2006, 92) reports the following correlations between life conditions and life satisfaction.

0 to Small Correlation Moderate Correlation Large Correlation
Age Number of friends Gratitude
Gender Being married Optimism
Education Religiousness Being employed
Social class Level of leisure activity Frequency of sexual intercourse
Income Physical health % of time with positive affect
Having children Conscientiousness Happiness of identical twins
Ethnicity Extraversion Self-esteem
Intelligence Neuroticism (a negative correlation)
Physical attractiveness Internal locus of control

Peterson (2006, 92) shows that education fails to correlate with life satisfaction. However, life satisfaction represents an inappropriate motivator for pursuing life-long academic goals. We recommend development of academic goals as a means to improve ministry skills and as a means for personal development.

Snider (1994) shows that academic pursuit builds an internal locus of self-control (a sense of self-efficacy). Self-efficacy builds hopeful thinking and self-esteem. And hopeful thinking and self-esteem build resilience. 

When I (Nathan) planned to retire from working for the Air Force, I spent four years taking new educational courses, all prior to transitioning into ministry. What initially stimulated high anxiety resulted in progressively lower anxiety as I prepared fully for a new ministry and a new lifestyle. The success of the transition depended on four years of detailed plans and education.

As you plan for continued ministry, what new academic goals are needed to support your development? What education is needed to boost your confidence in your work and ministry?

Dr. Joseph Castleberry, president of Northwest University, also served as a missionary to Ecuador. He makes the following observation about possibilities for life-long learning:

No matter what age or phase of ministry a particular student may be in, seminary and formal education can play a crucial role in providing them with tools that will take them to a new level of professionalism. Just as important, seminary study occurs in the context of deep commitment to the presence and anointing of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus desires to pour out on the young and the old, on men and women, and on people of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and walks of life.


  • What are your academic goals? Lifelong learning represents a fundamental element of well-being.
  • What courses would help you better accomplish your call and your personal growth?
  • What SMART academic goals will you pursue?

For a description of SMART goals, please see Balance–What is it?

© 2013 Nathan Davis

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