Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr. : Don't you ever stop believing in yourself?

Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr.  Photo of Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr.

"Don't you ever stop believing in yourself?"

I've had my share of opportunities to give up and quit on myself and to believe that good things, no great things were not intended for me. The story that illustrates this best is after my graduation from high school I was determined that I was to attend college. My high school guidance counselor never met with me to help me understand how to apply for college. In fact, I didn't know that you had to apply for college. However, I caught the city bus and made my way to Texas Southern University in my hometown of Houston, TX anyway. I arrived at the Registrar's Office and stood in line with all of the other students only to discover that they had applied and were prepared to be processed and admitted. I was to find out that you could not just show up and enroll in a university. I was not even aware that it cost to attend a university.  Not only was I unprepared because I hadn't applied, but I was unprepared to pay for my first semester of university studies.

However, this is where I learned the importance of knowing what my mother taught me. "God will never let you down, so don't you ever stop believing in yourself!" I refused to leave the registration line when I was told that I had not applied and should go. I stood there and I'm not sure how long I stood there until a more mature woman came to me and asked me to go with her. She worked two miracles that day. Well really, she worked three. She calmed a scared young man down, helped him to get all the necessary paperwork completed including a waiver on the ACT that was required and found grants for me so that I walked away that day with no loans or any debt. I returned home with a great big smile on my face to tell my momma that her baby boy was a college student. The first in our family - that was in 1968. Today I have a Bachelor of Science Degree, a Masters of Divinity Degree and a Doctorate Degree. I serve as the Bishop of the United Methodist Church in Mississippi with 1,039 congregations and, by the way, Mississippi is my mother's home state. I could not be in this position without that day in January 1968. 

Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr.

Resident Bishop, Mississippi Area, The United Methodist Church

Last modified: Tuesday, December 11, 2018, 11:01 AM