Human Flourishing—Full Article


1For an introduction to the topic, see articles and podcasts from the 2008 InterVarsity Graduate and Faculty Ministries conference on human flourishing.

2Miroslav Volf, “God, Justice, and Love: The Grounds for Human Flourishing,” Books and Culture: A Christian Review (January/February 2009): 1.

3Certainly, there are many characteristics of student life and university policies today that could be discussed as contributing to a lack of flourishing besides busyness. For example, thoughtful critiques of co-ed dorm living and the sexual practices it encourages can be found in Vigen Guroian, Rallying the Really Human Things: Moral Imagination in Politics, Literature, and Everyday Life (Delaware: ISI Books, 2005), 133–59. I think also of the widespread problem of binge drinking. The list could go on.

4David Brooks, “The Organization Kid,” The Atlantic Monthly (April 2001): 40.

5For example, here is a report from a 2002 Princeton Alumni magazine (and trends have not changed): “The number of students using Princeton’s counseling center has climbed 30 percent in the last two years, according to clinical psychologist Marvin H. Geller. . . . Last year Geller’s staff met with 1,100 students with problems ranging from the situational, such as dealing with parents’ divorce or a death in the family, to serious mental illness including severe depression, anxiety disorder, and bipolar disorder. In the year ending June 30, 2001, the last year for which figures were available, 276 Princeton students were referred by the counseling center to psychiatrists, a 46 percent increase over the previous year, and two-thirds of those students were placed on medication. About 40 percent of all Princeton undergraduates use the counseling center at some point.” Kathryn Federici Greenwood, “When College Life Overwhelms,” Princeton Alumni Weekly (Dec. 4, 2002).

6Kathryn Federici Greenwood, “The Pursuit of Perfection,” Princeton Alumni Weekly (June 5, 2002): 16.

7David Brooks, “The Organization Kid,” The Atlantic Monthly (April 2001): 41.

8Sara Rimer, “For Girls, It’s Be Yourself, and Be Perfect, Too”(New York Times, April 1, 2007).

9Merrell Noden, “Admission Obsession,” Princeton Alumni Weekly (December 12, 2007): 21.

10“In 2003, Swarthmore rejected 62% of applicants with a perfect 800 verbal SAT score and 58% of students with a perfect 800 Math score. In the same year, Notre Dame rejected 39% of high school valedictorians who applied. Public universities have become more discerning as well. In 2004, the majority of freshmen at the University of Wisconsin graduated in the top 10% of their high school class. . . . San Diego State, where I teach, used to be a party school almost anyone could get into, but these days, the average undergraduate earned a 3.5 GPA in high school and scored around the 80th percentile on their SAT’s.” Jean M. Twenge, Generation Me (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006), 116–17.

11Merrell Noden, “Admission Obsession,” Princeton Alumni Weekly (December 12, 2007): 22.

12Jean M. Twenge, Generation Me (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006), 118.

13And for the most part, I have not met many Christian students who live much differently. Christian students seem to struggle just as much as non Christian students with stress, anxiety, and depression. I do not think most yet know how being a Christian should affect how they pick their courses and their major, how they study, and how they manage their time. They have not yet realized how the gospel can release them from the pressure cooker environment they live in every day.

14Dorothy Sayers, “Why Work” (an address she delivered in Eastbourne on April 23, 1942).

15John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton: Crossway, 2003), 139.

16Ibid, 141.

17I learned the following insights from Pastor Tim Keller. A sermon in which Pastor Keller teaches on this topic is available at the Redeemer Presbyterian Church website. The sermon is titled “Made for Stewardship” and was preached October 22, 2002.

18This struggle is made more intense by the fact that education separates out practical life matters and domestic arts for people to learn on their own. So students come to college and graduate with widely varying abilities to do such basic things such as cook, manage money, clean a home, etc. There is the same void in experience with caring for small children or understanding basic things about childhood development, which is why the transition to parenting is such a jolt these days. Usually family background is what determines preparedness or lack thereof in these matters. I mention this because campus ministries and local churches can serve students by helping to give them a more holistic experience of life. For example, I continually urge college students to serve in the nursery to fill a constant need and also to learn about infant care along the way.

19I also learned this from pastor Tim Keller. This sermon was titled “Work and Rest” and was preached March 23, 2003. It can be found on the Redeemer Presbyterian Church website).

20Os Guinness, The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 65.

21For example, see Gustav Wingren, Luther on Vocation (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg, 1957) or Martin Luther, The Freedom of a Christian (ed. by Harold Grimm; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1957).

22There are of course, other metaphors in Scripture that further define our relationship to God in Christ. For example, “sons through adoption” (Rom 8), “friends of Christ” (the Farewell Discourse in John), etc., and we certainly need to keep these in balance with “slave.”

23For more on this topic, read Andy Crouch’s excellent book Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling (Downers Grove: IVP, 2008).

24A sermon by D. A. Carson on this parable is available at the Gospel Coalition.

25John E. Smith, Harry S. Stout, Kenneth P. Minkema, eds., A Jonathan Edwards Reader (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995), 244.

26Edward T. Welch, Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest (Greensboro: New Growth, 2007), 77.

27Ibid, 65.

28Marva Dawn, Keeping the Sabbath Wholly: Ceasing, Resting, Embracing, Feasting (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 24.

29Ibid., 15.

30I am grateful to Dr. Lawson Younger for teaching us the following lessons.

Categories: Full Articles

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8