Greg's Writings

The Key to Gen Z Wellbeing

Jul 3, 2024 | Greg's Writings | 0 comments

purpose class

Belmont University’s Faith-Based Approach to Purpose-Finding

As parents, you want the best for your children – happiness, fulfillment and readiness for an ever-changing world, all while growing in their faith. Recent findings from the Gallup survey “Voices of Gen Z: Youth Happiness” confirm what many of us as parents have long known – a sense of purpose rooted in faith is crucial for young people’s happiness and well-being. The survey of over 2,000 Gen Zers aged 12-26 revealed that happiness is strongly linked to having a purpose – specifically at school and work.

As the President of Belmont University, I’ve always believed that a college education should be both transformative and transitional. It’s about more than just earning a degree; it should help students discover their unique, God-given purpose while cultivating their character and nurturing an entrepreneurial mindset. 

Alongside my wife, the Rev. Susan Pendleton Jones, and our exceptional faculty, I have the privilege of guiding students through a purposeful journey of self-discovery by teaching a course called “What’s Your Why.” Since its launch in 2022, we have brought in purpose-driven Christian leaders like artist Makoto Fujimura, author Esau McCaulley, entrepreneur Cordia Harrington, former DreamWorks Animation executive Rick Rekedal and musician Jon Foreman of Switchfoot for intimate conversations in the class. Through these interviews, reflective assignments and a “Journey Showcase,” students begin to gain clarity on their talents, passions and their calling to make a difference. It’s incredible to witness.

At the beginning of the semester, students are guided to choose a purpose group based on their interests and strengths, such as sincere storyteller, organizational innovator, thoughtful investigator, creative visionary or compassionate guide. This allows them to explore purpose through their unique giftings, while learning from the diverse experiences of their peers. One student shared, “Listening to people’s thoughts and ideas and how we really are related was super cool for me. It’s all interconnected.”

The course also emphasizes the connection between faith and academic disciplines. As Dr. Alex Hartemink from Duke University shared, truth, goodness and beauty motivate those in scientific fields, while critical thinking remains vital for creatives. By recognizing this interplay, students develop a holistic sense of purpose that integrates all aspects of their lives. That is key.

In a time when mental health challenges are at an all-time high for young people, I firmly believe that Christ-centered higher education must prioritize student happiness and purpose-finding within a faith-based framework. At Belmont, we embrace this challenge wholeheartedly.

If you’re in the college selection process, consider asking these questions to guide your child as you explore the right fit for your family:

1. Does the university prioritize helping students discover their unique, God-given purpose?

2. Are there specific programs for purposeful self-discovery?

3. How does the institution integrate faith into students’ academic and personal development?

4. Does the university have a holistic approach to student well-being, including mental, emotional and spiritual health and character development?

5. Are there opportunities for students to engage with purpose-driven Christian leaders and mentors?

By choosing vibrant institutions that affirmatively answer these questions, you can trust your child will receive a character-focused education that prepares them for a successful career and also helps them uncover their God-given purpose for true happiness and fulfillment.

At Belmont, we are committed to walking alongside students on this transformative journey, grounding them in faith every step of the way. We believe that by helping students discover their “why,” we are setting them up for a life of significance, joy and service to God and others.