Michael Nicholson, 71, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, has earned 29 degrees and is now pursuing his 30th. He has one bachelor's degree, two associate's degrees, 22 master's degrees, three specialist degrees and one doctoral degree. He is currently working on a master's degree in criminal justice. "I would like to get to 33 or 34. I'm almost there," he told ABC News. "When I complete that, I'll feel like I've completed my basic education. After that, if I'm still alive -- that would take me to 80 or 81 -- I would then be free to pursue any type of degree."
Western Michigan University Professor Tom Carey said of Nicholson, "I've had 18,000 students in class and I've never heard of anybody like this. He's the ultimate life-long learner. I marvel at his tenacity to go to school. … He's intrinsically motivated. It's unique, but it almost sounds bizarre. Some people collect animals and he collects tassels."
"Eventually, it became getting as many as I could," Nicholson said.
Yet with all those tassels, Nicholson has never been employed in any of his fields of expertise. "I just stayed in school and took menial jobs to pay for the education and just made a point of getting more degrees and eventually I retired so that I could go full-time to school.”
"He likes going to school but doesn't want responsibility," said Professor Carey.
Sounds like many Christians. They like attending church and enjoy listening to sermons, but don't really want responsibility. Discipleship—that process by which we learn to be a follower of Christ—is, much like Mr. Nicholson’s educational career, a lifelong process. But knowledge for knowledge sake is empty and pointless. There is a responsibility that comes with biblical truth—a responsibility to use that knowledge to accomplish all that God wills.
While Mr. Nicholson enjoys the positive attention of the news media for the many degrees he's earned, let us not follow his example. Don't be satisfied with being a life long hearer of the Word of God while failing to put it into practice.
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8).
Don’t be a Bible Study or Sunday School junkie. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22), lest your knowledge of the Lord be rendered “ineffective and unproductive.” Rest assured, the Lord will not be impressed by the number of tassels you’ve collected.