College is, decidedly, an overwhelming experience. Whether you hail from a distant country or live mere minutes away, it’s the beginning of a new chapter. There’s newfound freedom and independence, but also added stress and pressures. First-year advisors exist for this very reason: to help incoming students adjust to this new environment and make the transition as comfortable as possible.
But the BJU faculty is here to invest in more than your academic success. They’re here to forge deeper bonds with students—both academically and spiritually. There exists no better example of this profound mentor-student relationship than first-year advisor Philip Adams.
Salt and Light
Junior Brooke Bell, who had Adams as her advisor sophomore year, speaks of his significant influence on her life. “He has always been a great encouragement to me,” she said when nominating Mr. Adams for the President’s Club Award. “Second semester last year, my family went through a very trying time, with several deaths in our family. One of my grandfathers was killed in an accident and other family members passed away or had serious incidents healthwise which caused me great stress and discouragement. But Mr. Adams helped me through and helped me keep my focus on Christ [while] doing my best in my schoolwork.” She continued on by explaining his commitment to her needs. He would take time out of his busy schedule to talk with her and—most importantly—to pray with her. “Mr. Adams . . . wants to make an investment in others and strives to help [students] accomplish God’s will for their lives, no matter how difficult it may seem because ‘nothing is impossible with God.’”
A Higher Calling
Adams had spent 32 years teaching German at Bob Jones Academy and later as an artist at BJU Press Digital. When a position in the Academic Resource Center opened, he was asked to apply. He admitted, “I wasn’t sure it was something I would enjoy, but after I looked into it, I decided to accept the offer.” In fact, for a while, Adams thought that the Lord was leading him away from Greenville. “[But] over time,” Adams maintains, “God confirmed that He wanted [me] to stay here.”
The Lord’s redirection of Adams’s life has provided the opportunity to foster important relationships with students in need. He works primarily with freshmen and first-year students who are navigating a new lifestyle. He also works with students on academic probation to help and encourage them to get back on track.
In fact, his favorite thing about his job is “hands down, working and interacting with students.” He further explained, “That had become the only thing I like about teaching so I’m glad to have that again in this position.”
However, even with the amazing ways God has moved in Adams’ life, it’s never been easy.
“Back in March of this year, I was one week away from turning in my letter of resignation,” he said. He already had another job available. The only thing left was to wait to make sure he was making the right decision. “That particular week started off terribly—I was bored and desperate for a change. To relieve the boredom, I decided to email my advisees and let them know I would be in the Den every day that week for informal meetings, if they had time to come by and chat. I had very low expectations, but God used that to redirect me. I met with students all day on Wednesday and Thursday and had some of the most amazing conversations. [Through] that, God showed me something that I had lost sight of. He showed me that I was having an impact on students even though it didn’t seem like I was and that was so encouraging that I couldn’t imagine just walking away from that into a job where I would have little to no impact on anyone.”
Words of Wisdom
When asked what his biggest lesson has been as a result of his current career, Adams responded, “I think just experiencing God’s faithfulness over all these years and seeing Him use me in the lives of students has been a huge blessing.” He advised, “Never doubt God! I have doubted Him at times and then been rebuked by His tender care and kindness toward me. I would also tell myself to get spiritual help when I needed it instead of being too proud and struggling through some very dark times alone pretending that everything was fine. There are lots of people around that are willing to help, so be willing to be vulnerable.
“Don’t be afraid to seek help when you’re struggling—people here genuinely want to help you succeed. And make sure you’re viewing college as your full-time job. When your education has your full-time attention, you won’t be as reserved in investing and engaging fully in it. It really does take that level of commitment on your part to succeed and thrive in college . . . The most discouraging thing is trying to help a student who’s doing poorly academically but is unwilling to accept the help and try the things I recommend for success. It’s hard to continue to invest in someone who won’t invest in himself.”
Adams’s relentless dedication, compassion and humility to his advisees and with his job has truly made BJU a better place. As one of his students myself, I’ve been able to witness firsthand his selflessness and grace. His invaluable involvement in all our lives is a constant source of encouragement. I also consistently marvel at the example he sets for his students. Whether it be giving us pertinent strategies for studying or praying for us as we grapple with our first year of college, Mr. Adams can always be counted on.