Fixing Our Universities: The Story of Smurf

I guess I need to explain myself. Here I am railing against our universities’ peculiar priorities, and I’ve not yet told you the story of Smurf.

You see, a young man who grew up in my home (a friend of my children who moved in when his parents divorced as a way to heal from the trauma) attended one of our universities to study to become a youth minister. Finances were tight. His family had been hit pretty hard by the divorce. His biological dad had abandoned the family. And so he had to take out school loans to pay for his studies.

The college gave him a $1,000 per year scholarship to help with the $15,000 or so annual price tag of his education.

A year or two into his schooling, the school assigned him a roommate called Smurf. Smurf showed up as an imposing physical specimen — a huge man recruited to play tight end on the school’s football team. Smurf had his tuition, fees, room, and board all paid for.

Smurf transferred at the end of football season, staying for just the one semester. You see, Smurf had no interest in playing for a school where he couldn’t spend the night with his girlfriend in his dorm room. And Smurf was angry at the school because no one had told him it was a Christian school where he’d have to attend Bible classes everyday.

Meanwhile, his roommate was paying for the privilege of taking Bible classes. And the school’s priorities made him very angry. And I think he was right.

Now he’s trying to make it on a youth minister’s salary while paying back school debt. Meanwhile, Smurf has transferred to another school where he can attend for free and live with his girlfriend as he pleases.

Now, I’ll admit to certain lack of objectivity, but I just can’t reconcile a mindset that gives away the Lord’s resources to people who disdain the things of the Lord while unnecessarily imposing financial burdens on those who want to dedicate their lives to him.

And so, like I said in the last post, things are getting better, for which I’m very thankful, but we aren’t there yet.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against athletes or athletics. I’m just much, much more for training ministers and missionaries. If it were possible to give everyone a free education, I’d be all for it. But as we have to make choices, I just think our choices should proceed from God’s mission, not the ways of the world.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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0 Responses to Fixing Our Universities: The Story of Smurf

  1. Michael R. says:


    I read your blog every time it appears in my blog reader. Thank you for your thoughtful writings. I rarely post comments to your blog but I had to on this one.

    I had a similar conversation just a few days ago. It's frustrating that ministry majors end up going deeply in debt in order to get a job that pays very little (typically) while business, pre-med and other majors (and athletes) are offered significant scholarships to end up with good paying jobs.

    As a full-time minister for the last 20 years, I find it increasingly difficult to encourage my two sons to go into ministry. This is but one part of the reason why.

    Mike R.

  2. Jay Guin says:

    Thanks, Michael.

    I see stirrings of improvement, but we are a long way from where we need to be.

    It truly perplexes me. It just seems so obvious that we aren't supposed to be like everybody else.

    I have at least two more posts to go on this series. I wonder if anyone from the universities will write in to defend the status quo.

  3. KS says:

    Defending the status quo? In my experience, ignoring and sidestepping questions is a great strategy of the status quo. Inertia is powerful.

  4. Joe Baggett says:

    You know we just finished a study on the ability of the average graduate to pay for their school after they graduate. Well all but one or two of the universities affiliated with the cofC are liberal arts based not technical or science. They offer BAs not BS. So the average salary of teachers, ministers and similar professions is $31,350. Most teachers will never make more than $40K a year. The average student graduates from ACU or LCU or HU with $40,000.00 in loans. If they marry they owe a combined amount of $80,000.00 dollars. That is a house note before you ever even get a house. This phenomenon is causing increased strain on new marriages because they cannot afford to live an upper middle class life style and pay their school loans I left ACU in 1997 and still owe them $30,000.00 dollars. Oh and they are not training ministers or missionaries they are educating them. Very few of them are really equipped to deal with the real world. They are groomed to fit into the average middle of the road cofC congregation.