For the past few months, I have been struggling with something that the Lord has continued to lay on my heart. I love theology. I love studying it and quoting it and thinking about it. I love to sink my teeth into a new passage of Scripture or thoughts from men of God in the past and the present. I cut my teeth on the writings of Charles Stanley and Max Lucado and have sinced moved on to heavier works by Louis Berkhof, Charles Hodge, Wayne Grudem, John Piper, and some of the great theologians like John Calvin. I honestly believe that I could spend the rest of my life just studying theology and be happy. My struggle has been that in my love for theology, I have often studied it and used it for the wrong reasons. I’ve used it to appear superior to others. I’ve used it to win arguments with my wife. And unfortunately, I’ve used it to excuse sin and to brow beat non-Christians.
My church is going through the book The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren. I will admit that I have been less than faithful in the readings. I often feel that they are so table-top for me that I wonder if they are really doing anything for me. However, one of the things that it has done is to make me continually aware of my ministry. I have been challenged by God to make my life and my ministry more practical. I have struggled off and on with what this meant and what God was really trying to tell me.
Yesterday, my pastor preached a fantastic sermon on ministry. He was very transparent in that he often feels unqualified and unable to lead our church. There are nights, he says, that he lays his head on his pillow and prays to God saying that He pulled one off today, but he did not know how to do it again. He was honest that he struggled in the ministry and direction of the church. As he spoke, my eyes filled with tears because I very much related to his struggle. I will finish my BA degree in December and I am struggling with my future. I feel very much called to teach. Beyond that, I do not know. I have considered seminary, but I often wonder if that is for me either. My pastor made a very good point yesterday. He often looks at ads in Christian leadership magazines for what churches are looking for in a pastor. They want Masters of Divinity degrees and multiple years experience leading whatever part of ministry in a church the size of 1200 or more. The bottom line is that Jesus himself would not have qualified to be the pastor of most churches.
My struggle has been that I want to be lead of God to go to seminary. I do not want to go just because there is nothing better to do. I do not want to go because I feel like I need to justify myself in front of others. I do not want to go because I simply want to add letters to the end or the front of my name. My pastor made a great point that he was not ordained of any man, but was ordained of God to do ministry. I have come to an interesting conclusion.
Ministry is about people. Jesus was about people. Christianity is about people. It’s not pedigree, programs, paychecks, promotions, or prominence. It’s people. Can I serve God and people by going to seminary? Perhaps. But not because I’m going for my own benefit or pride, but because I love God and I love people.
At the moment, I am involved in an ordination process with a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization. I began it because I felt the need to be ordained in order to fulfill God’s purposes for my life. But now I question it. I wonder if I am doing it for the wrong reasons.
There are many questions about this that I cannot answer. One of hardest thing about Christianity is when God seems to be silent. The reality is that He’s not really being silent. He’s whispering very quietly for us to trust Him.
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