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Charleston Southern University > CSU News > Taking the first step

Taking the First Step

By Dr. Maxwell Rollins, director of graduate programs // College of Business // 1.10.19 

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a Habitat for Humanity project. It had been quite some time since I had done any carpentry, but I was looking forward to serving for a few hours on a Saturday morning with a hammer in my hand. Several of my College of Business colleagues and undergraduate students had worked on this home during the past few months, so I inquired during lunch about their experience. Everything my lunch buddies said they did on the home, I replied with confidence that I could do also; but always added the caveat that I could do anything as long as I did not have to go on the roof. A small fear of heights has always caused me to prefer my feet to remain firmly anchored to solid soil. 

Maxwell Rollins with a student at a Habitat build day in fall 2018.When I arrived at the worksite ready to put my work gloves to use, I stood there with a group of 10 others from CSU waiting for our mission. The leader of the project then explained what we would be attempting that morning – nailing shingles on the roof.  Of all the projects, today’s work meant that I would have to leave my comfort zone. We climbed the scaffolding to begin our work and I had high hopes that for the next four hours I could stand on the anchored structure and nail the shingles to the roof. It was less than half an hour later, that regardless of how much I stretched, I could not reach the next shingle without leaving the relative safety of the horizontal boards of the scaffolding. It was time to overcome my fear and take the first step onto the roof. 

The leader was walking back and forth on the roof a few feet ahead of the group, and nine other people were right beside me hammering. After a short, but sincere prayer, I inched myself onto the roof. A sense of peace came over me knowing there was no way I was going to fall. The Lord had given me strength through my prayer, an experienced leader was in front of me guiding my path, and my group members were by my side. My fear subsided because I realized I had help every step of the way. After taking that first step, I gained confidence with every shingle laid down all the way to the top of the roof as we completed that portion of the Habitat project. 

Starting something new can be challenging and fear might be a barrier to success. Some of you are starting your first semester as a student and taking that first step might make you a bit anxious. Others might be beginning a semester where your workload has increased or you are taking a course that you think will be more challenging than in previous semesters. Keep in mind that, like my experience on the roof, taking the first step is less fearful knowing that others are there with you to assist you with not just the first step, but to help you make it to the top. Like the leader of the Habitat project, you will have a professor to guide you from the start who wants you to succeed. Your classmates are also there to support you both with assigned group projects and emotionally. 

The Bible promises throughout that we are never alone. God has promised His followers, that we should not fear because He will not leave us or forsake us (Gen. 28:15, Isaiah 41:10). We even see this wonderful assurance in the final words of The Great Commission, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20 NIV). My prayer for you is that as you take your next first step, you use these words of truth to guide you in overcoming your fears. As this semester begins, keep your sights on your goals, know that many people are ready to support you, and what Moses told Joshua is still true today, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you” (Deut. 31:8).