Telios Law Excelsior Scholarship Winner: Jonathan Shedd

2018 Essay Prompt

Five years after the founding of Telios Law in 2012, the Telios Law Scholarships were established to encourage the next generation to live a whole or complete life. The Greek word telios means “complete, perfect, or whole.” All scholarship applicants were required to complete an essay in which they described what telios means to them, how they've demonstrated telios in their life, by drawing upon significant life experiences, academic learning, goals, motivation for achieving those goals, and/or the stories of admired heroes. 

Both scholarships draw upon the experiences of Telios Law’s founder and owner, Theresa Sidebotham. Theresa grew up as a missionary kid in Indonesia and is a mother to four missionary kids, but also finished raising her sons, attended law school, and founded Telios Law in Colorado. Her personal experience attending a Christian college was formative and inspiring. 


Jonathan's Winning Excelsior Scholarship Essay: "Wholeness and Success in Christ"

From the beginning, God’s intention for man was simple: to find completeness in Him. Because of the fall, however, every human being is lacking physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Despite my flaws and my lacking, Christ has fulfilled my spiritual needs, and I trust that someday all other needs will also cease. In anticipating that moment of telios, I strive to be more mature daily. Yet, I also know that on my own strength I will never achieve total maturity. Telios is not of my own doing; rather it is only Christ at work in me. God uses many methods in bringing about maturity and wholeness such as suffering, various experiences, relationships, and the gifts that He showers on the righteous and wicked alike. In looking back, I can see a variety of examples in which God has made me into a more complete individual. I have also seen God at work in the lives of those around me, especially my mom, who is someone that I admire greatly. All in all, I am still far from perfect; yet, God is faithfully at work in me!     

Many strategies and methods are used by God to develop one’s character and make someone more complete, whole, and mature. In fact, as Romans 8:28 puts it, he works “all things ... together for good for those who love God” (NRSV). It is crucial to observe that telios can only be accomplished by God’s grace; it is not something that I can do on my own. Yet, because of His great love, He chooses to utilize pain, relationships, experiences, gifts, and blessings in order to make His children complete and mature. God wants for His people to have success, but this can only be done by His grace. All this is not to say that those who do not believe in God can’t obtain some degree of worldly success, which is certainly possible since God gives both believers and non-believers gifts, unique experiences, relationships, and painful trials. However, I do not consider telios to be referring to worldly success; I believe it goes deeper than that. After all, can success in this world lead to a genuine wholeness or complete maturity? Clearly it cannot since this world and everything in it is temporary. I consider telios to apply to eternity and not just the here and now. 

In looking back at my own life, I can see God at work in developing my character and forming me into a more complete, mature person. As I’ve already mentioned, Christ has already saved me. Thus, spiritually I am complete in Him. My relationship with God is a crucial aspect to my wholeness and maturity. This relationship is not the only relationship that God has used in the process of my maturity. To start, I have seven siblings! Thankfully, I have great relationships with all of them. My parents have also heavily influenced me. I know that many people can’t say the same, so I try to not take it for granted. Additionally, as a third culture kid, I have made friends from various cultures. This has expanded me as a person in more ways than I recognize. Furthermore, I’ve had a lot of unique experiences in both Ecuador and in the United States. I have seen and done things that most people have not experienced. For instance, I’ve gone on several mission trips and have had my eyes opened not just to poverty and crime but also to the ways in which God is at work around me. These eye-opening experiences have shaped me into the person I am today. I’m not the most compassionate person; nonetheless, I do believe that God has used these experiences to make me more tenderhearted, and I am confident that He will continue to do this. In addition to growing up in two cultures, I have attended several private schools and was homeschooled for several years. This mixture of education has given me the privilege of learning new perspectives as well as giving me unique experiences. I am especially thankful for the opportunity that I had to be homeschooled since it was during those years that I grew in my faith and in my understanding of the Christian worldview (as well as other worldviews).     

My experience as a homeschooler has given me a greater admiration for my mom, who taught me how to think critically and gave me the resources I needed to succeed and learn a variety of disciplines. I would describe my mom as someone who is “complete, whole, and mature” in many ways. Not only is she a fantastic teacher, but she is also one of my best role models. She does an amazing job at imitating Jesus through her acts of love and faith. I have learned a great deal from her and I know that God has placed her in my life with the purpose of building up my faith in Him. It is in large part because of the example that my mom has set for me that I am who I am today. She has had a significant influence on me physically, mentally, and spiritually. I can’t imagine where I’d be in my pursuit of telios without her influence in my life.

In conclusion, as a broken person I am far from being perfect and still lack in many ways. Nevertheless, I am spiritually whole because of what Christ has done for me, and I anticipate the day when I will be complete in every way. Throughout my life, God has used the people around me, especially my mom, as well as various experiences, trials, and blessings to form me into a more complete individual. Though I am far from perfect, I am making significant progress by God’s amazing grace!