I want to draw your attention to a talk on “Vision in Life” given by Dr. William Lane Craig. Dr. Craig is the ablest defender of the Christian faith operating today. He has done formal academic debates with all of the best known atheists on major university campuses in front of thousands of university students.
It turns out that he owes a lot of his success to his amazing wife Jan.
The MP3 file is here. (32 minutes)
This talk was Dr. Craig’s chapel address to Biola University students.
About 11 minutes into the talk, Bill describes what happened after he finished his Bachelor’s degree at Wheaton:
And so I joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ for 2 years, and was assigned to Northern Illinois University. And that was where I met my wife Jan. She was a graduate of the University of North Dakota where she had come to faith in Christ. And she had a similar vision for her life of evangelism and discipleship.
And as we worked at NIU together, she with gals and I with the guys, leading students to Christ and discipling them to walk with the Lord, we fell in love. And we decided that we would be more effective if we joined forces and became a team.
So their reason for getting together was because they thought that they would be more effective in evangelism and discipleship if they worked as a team.
It is at this point in the talk where Bill begins to explain just how Jan molded him into the lean, mean debating machine that travels the world striking terror into the hearts of atheists.
Bill’s first story about Jan occurs early after their marriage while he is working on his first Masters degree at Trinity:
And it was also at that time that I began to see what an invaluable asset the Lord had given me in Jan. I remember I came home from classes one day, and found her at the kitchen table with all the catalogs and schedules and papers spread out in front of her and she said, “look! I’ve figured out how you can get two Masters degrees at the same time that it would normally take to get one! All you have to do is take overloads every semester, go to all full-time summer school and do all these other things, and you can do two MAs in the time it takes to do one!”
And I thought, whoa! Are you sure you really want to make the commitment it takes to do this kind of thing? And she said, “Yeah! Go for it!” And it was then I began to see that God had given me a very special woman who was my supporter – my cheerleader – and who really believed in me. And as long as she believed in me, that gave me the confidence to dream bigger dreams, and to take on challenges that I had never thought of before.
In an article on his web site, he talks about how Jan encouraged him to do his first Ph.D:
As graduation from Trinity neared, Jan and I were sitting one evening at the supper table in our little campus apartment, talking about what to do after graduation. Neither of us had any clear leading or inclination of what we should do next.
So Jan said to me, “Well, if money were no object, what would you really like to do next?”
I replied, “If money were no object, what I’d really like to do is go to England and do a doctorate under John Hick.”
“Who’s he?” she asked.
“Oh, he’s this famous British philosopher who’s written extensively on arguments for the existence of God,” I explained. “If I could study with him, I could develop a cosmological argument for God’s existence.”
But it hardly seemed a realistic idea.
The next evening at supper Jan handed me a slip of paper with John Hick’s address on it. “I went to the library today and found out that he’s at the University of Birmingham in England,” she said. “Why don’t you write him a letter and ask him if you can do a doctoral thesis under him on the cosmological argument?”
What a woman! So I did, and to our amazement and delight Professor Hick wrote back saying he’d be very pleased to supervise my doctoral work on that subject. So it was an open door!
And in the same article, he explains how Jan encouraged him to get his second Ph.D:
As Jan and I neared the completion of my doctoral studies in Birmingham, our future path was again unclear to us. I had sent out a number of applications for teaching positions in philosophy at American universities but had received no bites. We didn’t know what to do.
I remember it like yesterday. We were sitting at the supper table in our little house outside Birmingham, and Jan suddenly said to me, “Well, if money were no object, what would you really like to do next?”
I laughed because I remembered how the Lord had used her question to guide us in the past. I had no trouble answering the question. “If money were no object, what I’d really like to do is go to Germany and study under Wolfhart Pannenberg.”
“Oh, he’s this famous German theologian who’s defended the resurrection of Christ historically,” I explained. “If I could study with him, I could develop a historical apologetic for the resurrection of Jesus.”
Our conversation drifted to other subjects, but Jan later told me that my remark had just lit a fire under her. The next day while I was at the university, she slipped away to the library and began to research grants-in-aid for study at German universities. Most of the leads proved to be defunct or otherwise inapplicable to our situation. But there were two grants she found that were possibilities. You can imagine how surprised I was when she sprung them on me!
Both of these Ph.D experiences are also described in the talk. And the talk concludes as follows:
I am so thankful to be married to a woman who is tremendously resourceful, tremendously talented and energetic, who could have pursued an independent career in any number of areas, but instead, she has chose to wed her aspirations to mine, and to make it her goal to make me the most effective person I can be, for Christ. And she has been like my right arm in ministry over these many years. And it is a tremendous privilege to be a team with a person like that.
And you young men, I would encourage you, if you marry, to find a gal who shares your vision, not some independent vision, but who is interested in aligning herself with you, and pursuing together a common vision and goal that will draw you [together], so that you will avoid the growing separateness that so often creeps into marriages.
And now you know the rest of Bill’s story. The person you marry will have an enormous influence on the impact you will have for Christ and his Kingdom. It is up to you to decide whether that influence is going to be positive or negative, by deciding if you will marry, and if you do marry, by deciding whom you will marry.
I have a popular post that has a lot of questions to ask a woman to make sure that she has the knowledge required to be a wife and mother, but I think in the context of this talk, I should highlight a few other questions that are more about her personality instead of her knowledge.
- Does she think that the purpose of the relationship is to serve God or to serve herself?
- Does she enjoy taking on the helper role, or does she ignore the man’s need for help?
- Is she able provide alternatives when decisions have to be made?
- Is she comfortable letting a man lead by letting him making decisions?
- Is she good at being calm, persuasive and reasonable during disagreements?
- Is she able to control her emotions, and separate facts from feelings?
- Does she respect what her man has been able to achieve in the normal male roles? (Provider, etc.)
- Is she the man’s “cheerleader”? Does she praise and encourage him privately and publicly?
- Does she see her man as an engine for serving God? Does she have a plan to help him perform better?
- Does she show her man that she is interested in teaching and mentoring others to grow?
- Does she take an interest in growing her man spiritually? (Men are often more practical than spiritual)
You may also be interested in this talk given by William Lane Craig, entitled “Healthy Relationships” (National Faculty Leadership Conf. 2008) (audio here) In that talk, he offers advice to Christians who want to have a marriage that is consistent with their Christian faith.
5 thoughts on “William Lane Craig’s secret weapon is his amazing wife Jan”
Lest any of you young men out there think that Jan Craig is utterly unique and that God has not made other such women, let me step up to tell you that my wife is of the same kind as Jan.
My wife and I married when we were 20, the week after I graduated from college (I took overloads and went to summer school, holding down part-time jobs as well, so that I could marry her as soon as possible with a degree in hand and without taking on debt). We have now been married for 42 years. We raised four children and have six grandchildren.
If she had sought her own interests she could have succeeded in any profession she chose. Yet she devoted herself to me and the children – letting us have all the benefit of her brains and talent. Without her selflessness, I could not have achieved half of what I did in life.
With every passing year of my life I come to a greater and greater realization that other than Jesus Himself – no decision in life is more important than marriage and no person in life can make as much of a difference for you as a godly wife.
Oh, and do I regret getting married at such a young age? Only in the sense that I wish we could have started married life even sooner than we did. Again, aside from Jesus Himself, nothing else in life has come as close to doing me as much good as she has.
Proverbs 18:22 may be the greatest understatement I have ever heard.
Oh man, for a Jan Craig woman or one like your wife, I would have married the day I got my first full-time, permanent job at 23. You can’t marry early enough when you have a woman like that. Just get a degree or a trade, get a job and put a ring on that finger. Praise God, too.
As a wife striving to support and encourage my husband to the best of his ability, I greatly appreciate the glimpse into Dr. And Mrs. Craig’s marriage. My husband and I married at 20 and have four children five and under. He works full time and is in school full time with some pretty big aspirations. I couldn’t be more excited to see what the Lord is going to do in and through us. This is a team effort after all. Thank you for sharing!
Stephanie, that was encouraging to read. You’re an inspiration.
Behind every successful man is a helpful wife. A good testimony!