All of the PhD students ar Ridley College are required to read John A. D’Elia, A Place at the Table: George Eldon Ladd and the Rehabilitation of Evangelical Scholarship in America. Sadly, Ladd’s biography is a morality tale of seeking the praise of others. While the accuracy of D’Elia’s portrait of Ladd will be for others to decide, the story D’Elia tells is both compelling and dare I say common. D’Elia describes Ladd’s struggle with his own inadequacies as a “wound that had existed in Ladd’s psyche from his earliest days, one that had grown virtually unabated during his adult life” (p. 180). This wound became nearly mortal after receiving a negative review of his 1963 book Jesus and the Kingdom by Norman Perrin. As D’Elia describes it, this event was a turning point in Ladd’s academic life and a self-preceived failure from which he never recovered.
If you are seeking the praise of others, you will either get addicted to it, be consumed by it, or be destroyed by it. Make your PhD an object of service, devotion, worship, and love, for both God and the church. Your job is to preach Jesus and be forgotten. Scholarship will give you neither fame nor immortality.