Neal Nelson is the Baptist Collegiate Minister at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. He has served there since 1997. Neal is a great communicator, but his passion is to see lives truly transformed. Whether it’s hunting, sports, or simply spending time at a coffee shop, I love how Neal invests his life into college students, seeking to lead them to an authentic love relationship with Jesus Christ.
We’ve been friends since about 1996, and Neal was one of the first to take me hunting in Arkansas. It consisted of sticking me up in a deer stand and leaving me alone in the dark. There were no other real instructions.
I never saw a deer that day, and when we were leaving, he asked if I enjoyed it. I said it was nice except that I finally had to get down from the stand to relieve my coffee-laden bladder. I still remember the sudden, quizzical look on his face when he asked, “Where did you pee?”
“At the bottom of the tree. Why?”
He shook his hand in exasperation, and I don’t think he took me deer hunting again…
Here’s Neal’s entry:
#5 – I didn’t learn why Mr. Alexander expressed such anger about being asked if gold was going to be on the test in college.
Walking to science class in the eighth grade somebody told me to ask Mr. Alexander if gold was going to be on the test. I confess my birth happened at night but it wasn’t the previous night. So instead of asking myself, I got the guy sitting beside me in the class to ask for me. Mr. “A” as we called him – our normally mild-mannered and well liked teacher – screamed at the unsuspecting student to go to the office and wait on him. Of course, the student immediately identified me as the real mastermind behind the diabolical plot. Mr. Alexander screamed louder at me. I received several hard hits with a paddle, which today would constitute abuse. I still don’t know why asking if gold was going to be on the test made Mr. Alexander so angry. The mysterious reason still creates a void in my soul. I had hope “higher” education would reveal the answer but I was disappointed.
#4 – I didn’t learn how to spell in college. Â
I am hooked on phonics but words must sound different in Arkansas because I still can’t spell. Without spell check my writing would probably be on a sixth grade level. The same is true about math. How is that possible?
#3 – I didn’t learn how to handle conflict in college, at least not in class.
Relational conflict is no respecter of person. The rich along with the rest of us experience conflict daily. I have decided after forty-two winters have passed that the ability to handle conflict well is one of the best indicators of happiness. One of my regrets in college was moving into a small apartment by myself my sophomore year. I shared a house with two friends from high-school my freshmen year and while it was fun there was constant conflict over the usual stuff.(bills, cleanliness, noise) I decided living on my own would help me be a better student and it probably did help my GPA. However, in the grand scheme of life learning to resolve conflict in a healthy manner then rather than later in marriage would have been a better choice. A college degree may help in attaining a job or more likely acceptance into a program for another degree but it will not prepare people to get along with one another. I wonder if we all had to choose between making a three digit salary with constant conflict or living below the poverty line in peace what would we would choose? (Prov. 17:1)
#2 – I didn’t learn the meaning of life in college.
One would think that after spending a small fortune on tuition and books one would learn the point of life. Honestly I am still not about the point of college.
#1 – I didn’t learn the secret of being content in college.
Being content (not complacent) has been one of the great struggles of my life. Content people are as rare as “normal” professors. Culture sends an extremely confusing message about contentment. On one hand there is the message that everyone is ok as they are. On the other hand we see thousands of images that suggest if we only bought a particular shampoo, gum, or cleaning product, we could be happy and beautiful. American culture seems to owe its existence (or at least its economy) to discontent people. And yet contentment is a major theme in the New Testament. Paul told young Timothy that “contentment with godliness is great gain.” (I Tim. 6:6) He told the believers at Philippi that living life in Christ was the secret to being content. (Phil. 4:10-13) I hope that you will seek contentment in Christ and through his strength in you this semester.