God’s Way to an A Student Testimonies
Welcome to God’s Way to an A!
The primary purpose of God’s Way to an A is to lead students into a greater love relationship with God, to show them how God is relevant to every area of their lives, including study. A whole new world opened up to me as a student when I realized that God was present not only in chapel three days a week, but He was also present with me in every subject, in every classroom, in every assignment, and in taking every test. It became my personal quest to know God in the details of learning.
When I began to experience the presence of God in my studies in a profoundly personal way, several things began to happen. First, and most obvious, I grew spiritually leaps and bounds. Considering what a student does most with his time is study (or at least let’s hope so), it makes sense that one would grow more in an area where God is “let in,” than where He is “left out of.”
Secondly, I began to experience joy, peace, and a freedom from performance orientation. That is, the quality of my academic experience radically changed from constant striving and drudgery to excitement and delight. As one student put it, “I am now free to pursue excellence apart from anxiety.”
Thirdly, my grades improved. Although I was already an A student, I made 100’s where I only expected to make A’s. It seems to make sense that you can do better with God’s help than without it; however, to actually experience divine help from the Creator of the Universe is still a mind blower!
In fact, in the twenty years that I have been teaching this course, improved academic excellence has always been a result of applying biblical principles to learning, and making God one’s source of wisdom.
Many people think pursuing God and pursing achievement are mutually exclusive endeavors. However, I have discovered they are not. Reliance on God’s power, love, and wisdom should form the very foundation of our achievement. It is not that God is opposed to achievement. He just doesn’t want our identity to be found in performance. He wants us to be free to perform, finding our identity in Him. This core shift is the essence of experiencing transformation in academics.
All of my students have been challenged to form godly beliefs about learning, so more positive and godly behaviors will result in a transformed academic experience—a truly Christian one. As a result, many of these students have written personal testimonies of how the Lord used God’s Way to an A to transform their lives.
This short packet presents some of these testimonies collected. I hope you enjoy them – and I pray that they encourage your hear.
In recent years I had been struggling with my grades and had been an average student, sometimes lower than average. I would not want to study and didn't really care. I would put things off constantly, and was lazy. I wouldn't pay any attention at all to my goals: (1) To bring my average from a 2.81 to a 3.0 in a couple of weeks (2)To go to Duke University and play on their basketball team and graduate with a 4.0. Then my ACCademic coach Veronica Karaman came in my life and showed me how easy school work and test taking really could be when I let God in my studies. That's when Proverbs 12:11 came to mind. It says, "Hard work means prosperity; only fools idle away their time." I thought to my self "I'm a fool, but I don't want to be a fool and now I'm not."
To prove to you that I'm not a fool my math grade went up 10 points in just 1 week! That's not all. I saw God move in my studies. My health went up 10 points. My reading went up 6 points, my Bible went up 10 points, and my English went up 10 points!!! Across the board I improved almost 15 points, going from an 85 average to a 99.1 in all my courses in just 5 weeks. I am making more 100's than I ever have. See what can and will happen if you don't slack off and you allow God in your studies, but you have to ACCEPT God to allow God to do things for you.
During God's Way To An A, I learned about wisdom, diligence, hard work, determination, putting God first, and more things. I mean how blind can a guy get. I mean it was very obvious if I applied these things to my studies my grades would improve even more. God is the source of all wisdom and knowledge and wants to help you in everything.
What it means to put God first to me is to let Him have control and to be with me all the time. If you do this you will actually like hard work and that will always amount to success and great grades. I challenge you to take this course and hope you do because if you do you will see your grades improve and your faith in God.
THANKS Coach K.!
6th Grade Academic Champion
College of William and Mary
April 25, 2004
God's Way to an A
Last year I had a difficult freshman year and came out of it with a low GP A. Emotionally it was very difficult for me, and I struggled over a lot of lies about not being smart enough, not working hard enough, not belonging at such a challenging school, etc. As a result, I was fairly depressed throughout the summer. I struggled a lot with fear about going back to school and wondered if advisors would tell me I shouldn't pursue premed because of my freshman GPA.
In high school I never struggled with questioning my intelligence, and I always believed that I was smart and capable of doing anything I put my mind to. I went back to school in the fall of my sophomore year (this year) feeling prepared. I felt like God had told me that I could succeed in Him and that He would lead me where I needed to go and that I would be able to bring up my GP A and enjoy studying and all the things I wanted to do that I felt like I hadn't been able to do freshman year. I was still somewhat scared of what advisors or others would say, but I really started off the semester well. My premed advisor encouraged me and told me I was capable of doing well and should pursue premed. I was on top of my classes for much of the semester, and I was able to raise my GP A, and it was quite encouraging. However, toward the end of the semester I did feel quite burnt out and when it came time to go back to school for second semester, I wasn't as motivated as I would have liked to be.
At the Spring Chi Alpha retreat Veronica spoke about worshipping God in your studies. This was something I had thought about a lot second semester freshman year and implemented to a certain extent. I applied it even more 1st semester sophomore year and it was just the reminder I needed going into second semester. I decided to take the God's Way to an A course to learn more about worshipping God through my studies. At the beginning of the class I had begun to get too GPA motivated. GPA is the most important thing on a premed's resume, so it is important, but I always want my motivation to be out of a heart that loves God. Participating in the God's Way to an A class helped further motivate me to keep up the idea of worshipping God through my studies.
It is almost like when I got saved in the area of my student life I feel new! All sorts of lights are coming on. I believe and now know he who begins a good work in me will complete it until that final day when Christ returns!!! What can I say! I thank God for exposing me to his truth and I praise him for your obedience in being a good steward of the ministry he has given you!!!! I don't want to go back to the old way...I pray God will show me mercy and grace and continue to take me from glory to glory...there is now one more area in my life where I might know God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent!
Well, it looks like I might make the deadline. All of my major projects are done. All I have to do now is memorize terms and concepts. I will e-mail you either Friday night or Saturday morning as to my status Please keep me in your prayers!
I pray everything is going well with you Thanks so much for going the extra mile…you and Angela have been a tremendous encouragement to me.
Keeping it Jesus,
There are a-number of reasons why I decided to take God's Way to an A, and the experience has been a very fulfilling one. Naturally one of the draws was the "A" part of the title, however, as the course progressed, I saw that the most important part of the course was the "God's Way." I very clearly fit into the description that Veronica gave early on in the course of the student who separates his spiritual and academic life. They were two very different spheres for me and I separated them as such. The idea that I could find God in my academics was foreign to me. All my life I have heard the scripture that you should "do everything as if unto the lord" (Col. 3:23) and in fact, I heard it so much that generally I dismissed it. I always interpreted it merely as putting your full willpower behind what you are doing and that it meant just working hard.
Through the course I learned that it is more than just throwing yourself fully into your work, but rather a change in your entire lifestyle and attitude. The class has helped me integrate my schoolwork in with my faith and use my studies as a way to minister to others. I have learned that your studies should be motivated by love, love for God, love for other students, and love for your professors.
The law school environment is a bit different environment from that of the undergrad program. We have a mandatory curve and I am competing with a number of very intelligent, somewhat competitive people. There is generally an atmosphere, which rewards competitiveness and places great value on securing well paying jobs, prestige, and general admiration in the eyes of the world. Although there is not necessarily anything wrong with success, I have always felt a little disillusioned with the pursuit of these goals for the sole purpose of worldly prosperity. The entire atmosphere of the law school weighed very heavily on my soul and by the middle of this semester I was more burned out than I have ever been, and I did not know what to do. Even amongst the Christians in the school there is an atmosphere of competition and reluctance to open up to people because of a fear of showing weakness.
As the class progressed, and more specifically, as I was starting to synthesize the course towards the end, I began to realize that the depersonalizing atmosphere of the school need not absorb me, but rather I could use some of the lessons learned through the course to try to change the atmosphere. As finals approach at the law school, the atmosphere becomes very high charged. Being that our entire grade is usually based solely on the final, naturally people become very stressed. Many of my classmates are complaining of crumbling relationships, failing health, and problems in their personal lives, all resulting from the stress finals bring. This semester for me, however, has been quite different. Although I find myself studying as much as ever, the entire procedure is much more painless, mainly because I can now see much more clearly the reason behind everything. I am where I am because God wants me here, and I am pursuing a degree not for the purposes of just gaining worldly prosperity, but rather to parlay the skills and experiences I gain here into something greater, and it is that sense of purpose which helps me in times which I previously would have felt disillusioned and directionless. I know that as long as I am in God's word, He will take me where I need to go, wherever that is.
Not only is the ultimate goal clear, but the way to reach that goal as well. I find it much easier to serve God where I am knowing where he ultimately wants to take me. I am one of those who tend to study best in groups and am generally a very relational person. Through these groups, I have had several opportunities to share the Lord with people. Because God has enabled me this semester to not go through many of the same stressful reactions that my peers have, I find that many classmates have turned to me for advice as to how I manage to remain calm in the midst of the exam maelstrom. This has happened on several occasions (and may I add, had not happened previous semesters mainly due to the fact that I was going through many of the same struggles they were). This gave me the opportunity to discuss why I have no need to fear for the future, because whatever comes, I know that as long as I am following God, it is the future He has for me. I have had the opportunity to be a blessing to others and plant seeds in an environment that so often discourages any kind of deep interpersonal contact. I am not sure where these seeds will lead, or where my grades will fall this semester (being that I have yet to take finals) but I am not worried because I know the Lord is with me as long as I fix my eyes on his purposes for my life, both present and future.
Before I took Veronica’s course, I feared being put on academic probation at Regent University. I was so intimidated by the demands of graduate school, I procrastinated in completing assignments. This caused greater anxiety and compounded the problem.
Through Veronica’s course, I learned that the Holy Spirit is my study partner. I experienced peace while studying and actually was able to enjoy my classes! The focus was no longer on my ability to achieve, but on the power the Holy Spirit gave me to bless my teachers by being the best student possible.
Two years after completing God’s Way to an A, I graduated summa cum laude from Regent University and was awarded the honor of being the “Most Outstanding Graduate” in the School of Communications.
I firmly believe this course should be required in schools for all grade levels.
Kimberly D. Smith
I hate studying. Seriously, I loathe it. I am unable to fathom a worse fate than sitting down in front of a mountain of books. pouring over rules. philosophical dissertations, and economic analyses on various topics that quite frankly bore me to tears. I have struggled with this disgust for studying my entire life: the irony is, I am an excellent student.
During grade school, my test scores far exceeded those of my classmates. I was enrolled in classes for gifted children, and I even skipped three grades. During high school, I took all of the advanced honors courses, and even in college, my grades were outstanding. Everyone-my teachers, parents, and friends-were always showering me with compliments and praising my hard work, "Monica, you are so smart! Monica, you have the skills and talent to be whatever you want! Monica, you are headed straight for the top!" Then, why did I feel so empty? Of course, I enjoyed all the attention I got from being at the top of my class, and I worked diligently at my schoolwork, but I can honestly say, without recognizing God's Lordship over my studies, all of this was nothing more than drudgery rewarded by hollow achievement.
Previously, I would be devastated when I didn't get a perfect grade. I felt as if not only had I failed, but somehow, I had failed my parents and teachers, too. It's hard trying to face the world with all that disappointment and burden on your shoulders! God’s Way to an A has changed me permanently. The principles in this program have completely transformed my flawed, selfish thinking, and I finally recognize that the world's opinion of me is merely temporary, whereas the opinion of my Savior is eternal. I no longer study to "make the grade," to make my parents proud, or because studying hard is the only way to get a good job. Suddenly, my focus is upward. The only person I have to please is my Heavenly Father, and when I study in an effort to honor and serve Him, he is made glad.
I have had a relationship with God most of my life, but when it came to my studies, He always seemed like this huge, ethereal being that certainly did not have time to bother with my piddly affairs. After all, He has to save people from their sins, protect world peace, and heal the sick, and I certainly did not need to trouble Him with my inadequacies and hatred for studying. Ha! I have learned that not only does God care about me, He actually cares that I hate studying. He is genuinely concerned if I feel too incompetent to finish law school, or that I am afraid of speaking in class. He cares that I'm afraid of failing. God's Way to an A has taught me that I no longer have to face school alone. My Lord is at my side, and it is His strength, not mine, that will persevere. It's even OK that I am inadequate! It does not matter if I am incompetent, scared, or bored because God is the One who teaches, comforts, and guides me. Suddenly, I have incredible freedom in my schoolwork! I finally understand that my grades are of little importance and are certainly not an appropriate gauge by which to determine my personal worth. I am successful only if I study as an act of love for God. He'll handle the details.
When I first heard about God's Way to an A, I was a brand new student on the campus of Regent University. From what I was told, the class was designed to teach students how to extend their relationship with God into their academic studies. I thought, "Hey, good idea. After all, there's no dividing line between the sacred and the every-day. God cares about the little things - sounds like an interesting class."
Although my curiosity was piqued, I initially had no intention of attending. But after I heard a classmate rave about how the very first class had blessed him so much, I reconsidered. "What the heck," I figured. "It can't hurt." I'm so glad that I went!
During the first class I attended, the instructor asserted that our studies should be an act of worship. In worship, she insisted, the primary focus is not excellence, but wholeheartedness. Excellence is more a matter of performance, whereas wholeheartedness denotes devotion to God. The instructor pointed out that while excellence is certainly desirable in our studies, our main concern must be to study out of a sense of wholehearted devotion to Christ. As I turned these ideas over in my mind, God began to reveal strongholds in my life.
I did my undergraduate work as a bassoonist at a competitive conservatory of music where "excellence" was the sole measure of our success and worth as musicians. My bassoon instructor had high hopes for me, and I fully expected that one day I would take my place in one of our nation's premier symphony orchestras. Unfortunately, I met with a number of personal failures - soon I had a reputation amongst my peers and teachers as an undependable, slipshod musician who would never amount to very much. I managed to graduate with decent grades, but nevertheless it was under the cloud of unrealized potential and squandered opportunities. After three years (and a lot of change), God brought me to Regent University to study Divinity. As I began my first year as a graduate student, I vowed that I wouldn't repeat my undergraduate blunders - I made it my goal to maintain a 4.0 grade point average and to graduate at the top of my class. But through the very first God's Way to an A class I attended, the Lord was showing me that I had set these goals out of an angry desire to prove all my undergraduate peers and teachers wrong by performing well: "I'll show you how wrong you were about me. I'm going to shine like a star here, and when I graduate with top honors I'm going to rub your face in it."
The instructor prayed for me that day, and I realized that I needed to forgive my undergraduate classmates and professors, repent of any anger and bitterness I had toward them, and that I needed to forgive myself for what had happened. Most importantly, God showed me that I needed to change my focus from one of performance in my studies (making the grade to impress) to one of worship to God. Out of that experience, God brought healing to my heart in places where before I could only feel the sting of defeat. And now I feel His presence and His guiding hand more than ever as I study. My task as a student is not to please men by besting my colleagues out of a worldly competitive attitude, but to worship my Maker in all I do and say. It may sound like an elementary concept to some, but to me it was a liberating revelation. I thank God for what he has done in me through God's Way to an A.
College of William & Mary
April 25, 2004
Let me begin by saying that I'm really glad we were given this assignment, because I've had a God’s Way to an A testimony since the very first class.
In elementary school I was given an IQ test and scored highly and I was put in the gifted program. In middle school I had trouble adjusting in the new school and didn't do well in my classes, so I was taken out of the gifted program and put in lower level classes. It was very frustrating, because I knew I could do more than what was required of me, but I didn't think I would be able to do well in more advanced classes.
I've wanted to go to William & Mary since my class took a field trip to Colonial Williamsburg in the fourth grade; but because there were only lower level classes on my high school transcript, I was put on the waiting list and ended up not getting in. So I attended a community college for two years and transferred to William & Mary as a junior. Even though I graduated in four semesters with a B average, I never felt like I was as intelligent as the students who got into W&M right out of high school.
After I graduated, I worked as an archaeologist with the National Parks Service for a while, and then I went to Kentucky to do home repair with the Christian Appalachian Project, and eventually I came back to W&M as a Chi Alpha missionary aide. The whole time I made it a point to generally avoid thinking about graduate school. I would tell myself that I was taking a break, or that I was going to wait a few years so I wouldn't have to take the GRE, or even that a master's degree was nothing but a waste of time and money.
At the Chi Alpha spring retreat, one of the breakout sessions was something called God's Way to an A, and I thought, "Oh, that will be good for the students," and also "Oh, how inapplicable to me in any way." But the students really enjoyed it, so much so that they wanted to start a God's Way to an A program at W&M. I went to a session one Sunday night, just kind of on a whim, so I could stay informed about what the students were doing. I was sitting there, kind of zoning in and out, and suddenly I heard God say, "Susan, you're afraid of going to graduate school. That's why you don't want to go." And that thought had honestly never entered my head before that moment, but as soon as He said it, I realized it was totally true, and I wondered how I could have not seen it before. Before that session was over, I was able to confess my fear, as well as the lies that I had believed about my intellectual ability. Everyone prayed for me that God would speak truth to me about my worth and potential, and that I would be able to walk boldly into the future He has planned for me. I was still a little scared, but I was excited about the paths for my future that I had closed off as being too difficult, and that were clear once again. After that, I thought, "I have to take this class!"
Over the next few weeks, as I prayed and sought God, my fear of graduate school entirely disappeared, and now I am even eagerly anticipating that opportunity in my future. I am going to be studying for the GRE this summer, so I can be prepared for where God will lead me next.
All that to say, that even though I'm not currently a student, God still used God’s Way to an A to heal part of my life, and to equip me for my future.
“I am a friend of someone who recently attended your seminar on God's Way to an A. I have been a student at a Christian college for two years and am pursuing a degree in biology with a pre-medical emphasis.
“While in college, I have maintained a 3.7-3.8 GPA and my academics have never been an area where I needed God's help. How wrong I was! Everything drastically changed this past spring semester.
“My grades were so low that I was literally failing every class! This was a first for me. I have always considered a C to be as horrible as failing. I would study for hours and nothing would sink in. I would go to take a test that I had studied a week for and leave half of it blank. Needless to say, I was suffering from a great deal of frustration, but my pride wouldn't let go. I was still sure that somehow I would take care of it--that I would somehow save my grades.
“My friend was aware of the difficult time I was having and upon returning from the seminar he ordered all the audio tapes. He told me that I needed to hear your seminar and told me much of what you taught. He received the tapes in the mail two days before my two hardest final exams--chemistry and immunology.
“Let me say here that chemistry gave me nightmares. I hated it, did not understand it, and was sure that it could not have been created by God. My highest test grade at the time of the final was 47.
“My friend studied with me for the final for two nights before the exam. While I studied we listened to the seminar tapes. No matter how hard I studied or how many problems I did, it just would not sink in. I cried and studied and finally asked my friend to pray with me late Thursday night, the night before the final.
“He prayed that I would let go of the responsibility, realize that God was with me no matter what the outcome, and that I would allow the Holy Spirit to teach me all that I needed to know. After that, everything began to click. I studied with the peace of God upon me and went to take my final the next day.
“At first I began to panic when it seemed that I did not know how to do many of the problems, but I remembered what we had prayed, told God that I knew He was with me, and that it was His test.
“I got an 80--the second highest grade in the class--and was the only person in the class to get two of the hardest problems correct, one of which I had never seen in my life! Praise the Lord!
“In the end, I received a B for the class, saving my GPA and my scholarship. I am not neurotic about my GPA, but my largest scholarship which allows me to financially stay in college is dependent upon my maintaining a 3.7.
“Scholarship has always been something very important to me and now I am learning from my greatest Professor of All, my Heavenly Father. My whole perspective on learning and education has changed. I hope and pray that this seminar will continue to touch the hearts and minds of all students.”
Megan, an American University student from Washington, D.C., who implemented GWA after just a one hour teaching on GWA at a student conference.
“I was a graduate student preparing to write a 4.5 hour comprehensive exam that would determine if I received my MA in history. The exam has a 30-50% failure rate and I was terrified!
2 Timothy 1:7- For God did NOT give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.
Throughout these past months of my first semester in college I have learned so much, about myself, what I want to do with my life, and where I want to continue my life as a student. This course has helped me grow spiritually and mentally as well. This Bible verse, 2 Timothy 1:7 is the verse that most represents me. I used to be a bit timid and shy in front of classes, but I never really gave my studies to God. Now that I have, He has made my heart overflowing with love, a spirit of power, and of more self-discipline than I have ever had in my life.
The section in our GWA book that touched me the most was, God’s Heart is to Fellowship with Us. Before reading this section I had no clue that God’s love had anything to do with academics. I did not understand that simply the love of God and my love for Him would help in any way. During the section I learned that love is the greatest source of motivation, which is my number one need, motivation. I also learned that love is the key for discovering God’s vision for me, which I was also in desperate need of guidance. After the section was over, I realized that I should love everyone, no matter how much they bother me or I just do not get along with them. A positive spirit of love keeps you approachable and pleasant in the eyes of others. They will not be intimidated by an unwelcoming scowl on our faces. Throughout this course I final noticed what all of my elementary and middle school teachers were trying to get me to realize, that God and academics are perfect partners. Now, I look at it as pepper and salt. You can not have one and be satisfied with your meal, you have to have both. Same way with God and my studies, I can only succeed with Him leading me through it all.
This course helped me out as a whole. I never really liked school much, well at least the academic part. I used to be good at it, but lately I have done nothing but waste my time. In the past two years I have experienced more than some people go through in a lifetime, but through it all I managed to leave God out of it and most importantly my studies. That was the dumbest thing I could have ever done. God can save us from anything and everything all we have to do is ask. When I finally did, He helped me more than anyone including myself ever could. So when times get rough go to God, I did and life started looking up for a change. My grades in school have gradually become higher and I feel more of a purpose for being in college as well.
Before I had taken God’s Way to an A, my grades were good, but my studies were empty. I tried hard in all my classes in high school, and I easily achieved A’s. School just came natural to me. When I was put into this course, my first thought was, “oh good, an easy A”. To my surprise, this class has been most enjoyable. It is a course that challenges you not only inside the classroom but outside as well.
When the semester began, I didn’t understand how to integrate academics with God. I was very skeptical about the whole thing because I was doing just fine on my own. It took me awhile before I actually let God into my studies. I started understanding this concept better once we worked with our text “Survival to Revival.” This was a great book that revealed so much truth about God’s personality. Each week a new challenge was set before us, and we learned new techniques on how to achieve better grades while growing closer to God. Once I opened my heart and allowed a change to take place, God touched me in a very special way.
The main scripture that touched my heart through this semester was Daniel 10:12- “You have set your mind to gain understanding, but you have not humbled yourself to receive from me.” This was a wake up call for me. I finally realized that my studies were all in vein unless I allowed God to be there with me. I set myself from that point on to have a new mission in my studies. I consciously asked God to be with me while reading, writing, and studying. By doing this, I was able to gain a new type of knowledge. My grades basically remained the same, but I had a new joy of learning and a more intimate relationship with God!
I would encourage students to take this course and really allow God to show them a new meaning to academics. If you take the class seriously, you are guaranteed to see an improvement in your relationship with God and grades too!