Studying history has taught me that when questions like, “Why are things this way?” or, “Has anything like this every happened before?” come up, immediately to seek out historical causes and precedents. I’ve found that understanding people and events as rooted in historical processes (we all have individual histories, rooted in family, language, and culture, right?) allows me to be more compassionate and, hopefully, offer more informed solutions to personal and social problems.
Professionally, as a pastor I deal with the Bible each week, and understanding the Bible in its historical context, as well as engaging with the various interpretive traditions, has been incredibly helpful in preaching and teaching. I focused a lot of my history classes on Western Intellectual history, so the development of theological and philosophical systems of interpreting Christian faith has led (hopefully!) to a sympathetic understanding of different theological paradigms. Understanding the failures of the church throughout history has given me a bit more humility than I might otherwise have had.
Finally, as a history major I learned to discuss important ideas and to write coherently about historical topics. This has helped me to discuss significant issues with family, friends, colleagues and church members, and also to communicate well in sermons and other writing projects. I often look back on my time at U of A with fondness, and have never regretted majoring in history.