Dr. Kristin Helms is an Old Testament Professor here at Roberts. We asked her some questions so you could get to know her and her journey:

What college did you attend? What was your major? Did you ever change it?

I went to the University of Evansville in IN.  I double-majored in biology and biblical studies.  Yes, I started out as a psychology major, and then I switched to undeclared and then to biology.  I was a junior when I heard God’s call to biblical studies, and by that time I had so many credits in biology that I just completed that major in addition to the biblical studies major.  It took 5 years to graduate, though.  

How did you decide on your major/career? 

My freshman year of college I was a happy psychology major, but I joined a Christian group on campus, and it was through them that I realized I had never asked God if psychology was what he wanted me to do   I was afraid to ask him, to be honest, because what if he said, “No?”  I didn’t want to hear that.  But I eventually realized that who knows better than the creator of the universe what he created me to do?   He clearly loves me; the cross proves that.  So I could trust him.  When I really realized those things, I prayed the prayer, “God, ok, what do you want me to do?  I’ll do whatever you made me to do…”  God led me to drop the psychology major.  My parents weren’t happy about it, my psychology professors were alarmed, and I had no Plan B.  I wasn’t afraid, though, because I was now living by faith in Christ alone, not in my own ability to make something work for myself. 

I took a biblical studies class and did very well in it, and the professor encouraged me to go into biblical scholarship, but my mother pointed out that there are almost no jobs in that field.  So I decided against it.  I eventually declared a major in biology, because you have to major in something, but the deeper into that major I got, the more I knew it wasn’t right. 

I remember one day I heard on the radio the story of a man called into missions, and in his story God had made it so clear that he was supposed to go as a missionary to Cambodia.  I was really upset when I listened, and I prayed, “God!  That man didn’t even want to hear from you, and you made it so clear that you called him to Cambodia!  I’ll do anything, and you aren’t talking to me about what to do at all!!!  All I know is what I’m not supposed to do, and I’m getting frustrated!”  And God spoke to me at that moment through the story of Jonah.  In the Bible, Jonah chooses the wrong path at first, but his wrong choice wasn’t bigger than God’s ability to get him where God had wanted him to be all along.  God whispered to me, “Do you really think you care more you ending up doing what I want you to do than I care about that?” As I sat there in prayer, he went on with that holy, gentle, powerful whisper to my spirit, “You just aren’t big enough to mess me up.  I am GOD, and you are very tiny by comparison.”  He also said, “You need to learn to trust yourself.” 

That made me nervous, because I’d much rather trust God with every decision, but I realized that I was often paralyzed in my decisions by listening for the voice of God when sometimes he just wanted me to make the best decision I could with the heart and mind that he had given me.

That made me nervous, because I’d much rather trust God with every decision, but I realized that I was often paralyzed in my decisions by listening for the voice of God when sometimes he just wanted me to make the best decision I could with the heart and mind that he had given me. 

  That next fall, as my mother pushed me to consider different paths forward after graduation, I thought, “Is there anything I love doing so much that I’d stick with it my whole life no matter how hard it got?”  The only thing I could imagine was studying the Bible.  Who gets a job in that?  This time, though, my mother didn’t discourage me.  She explained that she had tried to learn Hebrew when she was younger, and she hadn’t been able to do it.  “Maybe you can,” she said, “You’ve done very well in school.”  When she gave me that permission, it was as if a veil was removed from my eyes, and I knew I would get a Ph.D. in Old Testament.  It took me being willing to recognize that this was my path forward to actually recognize it  

What do you consider your calling to be? How does your current job as a faculty member relate? Any advice or words of wisdom for students trying to find their calling?

I’m called to be an Old Testament professor and scholar, which is what I do on faculty at Roberts.  I’d encourage any student trying to find their calling to make sure they are willing to learn what their calling really is.  That ended up being my stumbling block for a long time, and it took years to peal the layers off of it.  I started out with a 4.0 as a psychology major, the favorite student of all my psychology professors, on the path to publishing as an undergrad in psychology – it was very safe.  But it wasn’t right.  It took a lot of trust in God’s love and wisdom to be willing to open myself up in prayer to the possibility I might be called to something else, something that felt less secure and certain.  But when I did open myself up in prayer to that possibility, I discovered that I didn’t like my psychology classes or the psychology research anymore.  Then I had to be willing to admit what I did like to the core of my being: biblical studies. 

I know it feels like the safe path is the path that looks the easiest in terms of getting a job, having a paycheck, etc.  But that is the path of putting our faith in money, and money is not a kind master.  No idol is a kind master.  God is a kind master, the creator who knows all things, the one who loves us so much he would give his only son to die to save us.  He will never let us down, and we can trust him.  

Do you have any regrets regarding your career path? Do you have any advice to current students exploring career options? 

I know I am right where I am supposed to be, and that my life and calling is in God’s hands.

I know I am right where I am supposed to be, and that my life and calling is in God’s hands.  I’d highly recommend when you are just starting to explore your career options to recognize that when you are older and you are looking back on where you are now, there is nothing better than knowing that you have been faithful to what God created you to do, and there is nothing that gives more peace than knowing that God is so powerful that, like Jonah, you can’t ultimately mess Him up.

What was the hardest struggle you had as a college student and faculty member? How did you overcome them?

My hardest struggle as a college student was definitely choosing what to do after I graduated.  It wasn’t that bad, though, because I really trusted that God was with me in that.  One specific decision I had to make as a part of that was where to get my Masters of Divinity degree after college and before my Ph.D. program.  I was told by everyone to go to Princeton Seminary, and Princeton offered me a full-tuition grant.  However, when I visited, I knew I didn’t want to go there. I visited Duke, and I could tell it was the place God was leading me. 

I visited Duke, and I could tell it was the place God was leading me. 

 However, Duke is not as well-endowed as Princeton, and they couldn’t offer me hardly any financial assistance other than government loans.  :/  In that situation God did speak to me to reassure me that he was leading me to go to Duke.  It was hard beyond words to turn down Princeton, but I did it. 

Two days later, Duke’s admissions office called to offer me a Duke Scholarship, which is their highest academic honor and covered all of my tuition.  Then it turns out the man who founded Duke University had a grandfather baptized by a Methodist pastor in rural North Carolina, and he had set up an endowment for any Divinity student who would do internships to serve such Methodist churches there.  That endowment covered all of my living expenses.  I also met my wonderful husband at Duke, and it turned out that I went to Princeton for my Ph.D., which means that my educational formation was greatly expanded by not going to Princeton for my masters, too.  God knew that Duke was the better choice for me, and, in hindsight, it is super obvious.  

As a faculty member, the hardest struggle I’ve had is in my job insecurity.  When COVID hit, the school decided to let go of many faculty and staff, as everyone knows.  My job did not disappear, but I was reduced to half-time.  In the fall my job was restored to full-time.  Roberts has weathered COVID remarkably well, even better than many other schools. 

However, for a variety of financial reasons, I am told repeatedly that I still do not have job security for next year.  I overcome this by my faith in God, whom I have followed faithfully.  It is His problem, and He has used this struggle to strengthen my reliance upon Him.

I hope all of this can be an encouragement to students thinking about their calling.  God is faithful.  He loves us. He is full of grace.  So there is no safer place than the center of his will.  You really can trust Him!

Categories: Programs


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.