Sunday, September 6, 2009

Seminary Doesn't Cover Everything

I've only been a pastor for a short time (nearly 4 years). Our church is rather small in comparison with most churches. However, you don't need to serve in a large context to gain valuable experiences in ministry. Seminary is a wonderful place to learn and grow. My theological training provided a solid foundation for ministry and I am so thankful for the opportunity. But, seminary doesn't cover everything.

The thing is, ministry brings you into the lives of the congregation. And life, as you know, entails a lot of stuff. Some of that stuff is very challenging and often messy. I'm talking about the pain and heartache that each of us will face eventually. The sorrow brought about by sickness, death and sin. The size of your church or your seminary GPA has no bearing on these things.

I did take a seminary class that mentioned hospital visits. The professor recommended that you go early and don't stay too long (good advice, as far as it goes). One of my best classes covered all the crisis situations we might encounter in ministry. It provided an excellent look at potential tragedies and turmoil, but all on paper. You see, that doesn't do much good when you are looking at a parent who is about to bury their child. Life comes at you in high definition when you are holding someones hand as they are being wheeled into emergency surgery. During those times nobody cares about Church history, Philosophy or your view on the ending of Mark's gospel.

I am thankful that the Lord has not left us to shepherd the flock alone. He is with us and guiding us in a real and personal way. And it brings me great joy to know that I can enter before His throne of grace and find help during those difficult and trying times. His grace is sufficient when I am weak, which seems to be quite often. Our God is good!

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