When I tell students that they never know what they might do with their undergraduate degrees, I speak from experience. I earned a degree in wildlife biology from the University of Montana and intended to work as a biologist on a wildlife refuge. I loved to roam the mountains of Montana, and I would have looked with disdain on a teaching career—which I would not have considered a “manly” occupation.
During my junior year of college, I began attending InterVarsity Christian Fellowship meetings—at first to check out the women. But soon I discovered that some of the students in the group had a consistency of life that attracted me. My own life lacked spiritual vitality and purpose.
I joined a student-led, small group Bible study, where I learned to read biblical passages in their contexts—not just as proof texts to argue my own theological tradition. And the last week of spring semester, I had a dramatic encounter with God that changed my life. That summer I attended a Bible study leadership camp.
During my senior year, I became a leader of the InterVarsity group, and the following summer I went to Guatemala to participate in InterVarsity’s Overseas Training Camp. While there, I was asked to come on staff with InterVarsity—an idea that I found humorous at the time.
Nevertheless, because of a knee injury and subsequent surgery, I could not work at my normal power-line construction job that summer, so I read and reflected a lot. I had one term left before I was to graduate, and by December I agreed to join the staff of InterVarsity. I never even applied for a job in wildlife management. For an outdoors kind of guy who laughed at the idea of a teaching career, to earn a Ph.D. in New Testament and teach Biblical studies at a Christian college really is an amazing reversal of plans
Michael R. Cosby is a professor of New Testament and Greek in the Department of Biblical and Religious Studies at Messiah College, Grantham, PA. He is the author of Apostle on the Edge: An Inductive Guide to Paul and Portraits of Jesus: An Inductive Approach to the Gospels.
Reprinted with permission from the fall 2006 issue of Messiah College’s magazine, The Bridge.