Winter 2016

In The Wild

Lessons learned outside the seminary classroom

This is something we know: God will equip us for every path He has invited us to walk. And His presence is the best preparation of all.

God takes what we have to offer—our training, our prayers, our sense of calling, even our inadequacies and sin—and He does something beautiful.

Consider David’s prayer in Psalm 5:

“Listen, GOD! Please, pay attention! Can you make sense of these ramblings, my groans and cries? King-God, I need your help. Every morning you’ll hear me at it again. Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on your altar and watch for fire to descend” (Psalm 5:1-3, The Message).

What a balm to our ever-busy souls—that we don’t create the fire, the spark of the Holy Spirit. God does it. We offer all that we have. We faithfully obey. And we wait expectantly.

What do you do, then, when you realize, I am not ready for this? I am not “enough” for this?

What do you do, then, when you realize, I am not ready for this? I am not “enough” for this?

In this issue we explore this reality for pastors especially—those who have learned the hard way that seminary or Bible school could never have fully prepared them for all that shepherding demands. Truly, it’s on-the-job training when you’re out in the wild of ministry.

If you are assured that this is where God wants you, then you remain on-course. You stay steady. And where you feel least adequate, you call upon God as David did. Then you seek more training, more input, more mentoring. Because of course you couldn’t learn it all in a theological classroom. Your church is also your classroom. And God has prepared all the resources you need.

Even seminary leaders agree. “We see our job as getting students ready to be launched but not a final product,” says David Dockery, president of Trinity International University. “Once people get their degrees, they shouldn’t stop learning. Theological education plays a vital, foundational part and should not be discounted. But that’s not all there is.”

On-the-job training runs the gamut from stepping into family health crises and understanding a balance sheet, to managing relational conflict and ministering to the sexually broken. A pastor who earned an A in Preaching 101 also has to keep up with world events, address his own personal sin and carry a church through necessary seasons of change.

Explore with us some of those qualities and skills not necessarily mastered in a classroom but essential to the role of a shepherd—those aha moments of learning for which God is more than adequate.

For further reading: What They Didn’t Teach You in Seminary, by James Emery White; and “The Shepherd-Rancher Divide,” also by James Emery White, published at