A Class for Those Considering Ministry

If you’re paying to go to seminary, you presumably have some sense of being “called into the ministry” as a full-time vocation.  To help students intentionally reflect on what that might mean, Asbury Seminary requires all students to take a Vocation of Ministry class their first year. This is my summer 2018 project.

The class is designed to help us:
– Articulate our spiritual journey and calling to ministry,
– Consider our gifts, passions, and experiences as they relate to ministry,
– Embrace spiritual growth and character development,
– Find life balance so that ministry is sustainable,
– Recognize healthy (and unhealthy) patterns of relationships in ministry (including sexual ethics), and
– Demonstrate sensitivity to cultural, ethnic, and gender issues with regard to ministry.

That’s a lot of ground to cover in one class!  We have done some interesting projects that I will recount for you in brief posts as the summer continues.  Our reading list for the class is:BookList

-Guinness, Os. The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life. 2000.
-Smith, Gordon. Courage and Calling: Embracing Your God-Given Potential. 1999.
-McNeal, Reggie. A Work of Heart: Understanding How God Shapes Spiritual Leaders. 2011.
-Barton, Ruth H. Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation. 2006.
-Ethridge, Shannon and Stephen Arterburn. Every Woman’s Battle: Discovering God’s Plan For Sexual and Emotional Fulfillment. 2003.  (Guys are reading the men’s version.)
-Lupton, Robert. Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help, And How to Reverse it. 2011.
-Roberts, Benjamin T. Ordaining Women. 1891, reprinted 2016.

These Are Our Stumbling Blocks

Life is full of challenges.  In class this week we talked about the four things most Christians stumble over.  They are somewhat sequential in our walk to spiritual maturity, but not entirely.

The first thing we stumble over, our first hurdle, is SALVATION itself.  We struggle at the very beginning of the path with the idea that we are sinners, that we cannot save ourselves, that Jesus was the Son of God, that Jesus gave His life on our behalf, and so on.  It’s just not so easy to embrace the whole idea.

The next thing we stumble over is THE WORD.  Learning to read the Bible regularly, to study it, to actually understand it, and to make it a central part of our lives can be so darn hard.  We may not understand how critical the Word is to our lives.  And even if we know it’s important, we still tend to neglect it.  It takes commitment, discipline, practice, and maybe some outside help to become a consistent consumer of the Word.

Then there is the LORDSHIP struggle – the idea that God is to be the most important, all-consuming person in our lives.  There cannot be anything or anyone more important than Him.  He doesn’t want to just be at the top of our priority list, He wants to own our whole life!  Surrendering ourselves, our ideas, and our “idols” is an ongoing, life-long process.  We continue to stumble over this for much of our lives.  We may surrender one part of ourselves, only to discover a few months later that some new idol has cropped up.

And finally, we stumble over PEOPLE.  People can be so hard to love – because we are sinners, they are sinners, and that can make for a fine mess.  Yet Jesus clearly told us in Matthew 22:37-39 that the Greatest Commandment is to love the Lord and to love people!  We are not only to love people, we are to make disciples of them and help teach them how to follow Jesus – that was the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20.

So where are you at in your journey?  What are you wrestling with?  Salvation?  The Word?  Lordship?  People?

I challenge you to think it over and discuss it with a friend.  Then decide what you’re going to do about it.  Don’t miss the whole point of your life on earth after you come to know Christ… He has called us to love and to labor.  Let’s do it!

devotional 10/28/2014

I cannot see it…

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?”  John 4:11Traditional well in Senegal, Tambacounda region

The Samaritan woman talking to Jesus was confused.  How in the world could one could get water without a rope and a bucket (or a pot)?!  Yet Jesus had clearly said that He had water and she could have some of it.  She was perplexed.

I think I must be like her sometimes – it seems like I limit the work of God, I hesitate in obedience, because I cannot imagine how in the world He would do it.  Yes Lord, I hear You clearly – but how in the world are You going to do that? How?  I cannot see it.

I am convicted that I must obey what I hear clearly, and let God sort out the how… After all, He is the Lord of the Universe and the owner of the cattle on a thousand hills.

Six Kinds of Women

*guest blog by Susie Walther, www.thewellbiblestudy.org

There are six kinds of women who come to Bible study.

The unsaved woman: she’s the one who doesn’t think she’s a sinner in need of repentance or a Savior because she thinks she’s a “good person” or she loves her sin too much to embrace the Cross and walk away from it.

The spiritually prideful woman: she’s satisfied with how long she’s “been a Christian” and her service in/to the church. She’s not really a disciple (which means “learner”) because she’s quite pleased with what she already thinks she knows.

The lukewarm woman: she doesn’t do her Bible study, doesn’t have a regular quiet time, doesn’t habitually pray, and goes to church or Bible study only when they fit conveniently into her schedule because the spiritual stuff always gets dropped first.

The cheap grace woman: she’s convinced she can live like a pagan and still go to a holy heaven. Baptism, confirmation or “accepting Jesus into her heart” are the golden tickets to eternal life; obedience, holiness, and actual Christ-likeness are optional.

The churched woman: she’s a faithful “attendee,” constantly in the receive and “I need to be fed” mode. She’s a Christian-faith junkie (conferences, Bible studies, books, retreats, Christian radio, etc.) – it’s just that she doesn’t ever, really “go and make disciples” because of her faith.

But there’s one last woman who’ll come through our doors, and that’s the spiritually hungry woman. She knows she needs Jesus. She wants to learn. She wants to grow. She’s transparent. She’s available. She’s willing to invest in the disciplines of her faith because she wants to become like Jesus in her character and a woman of spiritual influence to the people around her.

You are one of these six types.

I hope to God you’re the spiritually hungry one because the church already has plenty of the others.

What’s Your Type?

A simple question:

You are almost never late for your appointments
YES                          NO

A question that reveals a great deal about you and how you relate to the world and others!  Marry someone, work with someone, or parent someone with a different personality type – a different take on the world – and the simple things can be so frustrating!

We first encountered Myers-Briggs and other personality tests in our premarital counselling.  I have continued to use temperament testing in ministry and work settings (and refer to it on our marriage) because so much about us is revealed in a few short questions.

What are you great at?  What do you do naturally that others struggle to achieve?  What environment will drive you crazy?  What are your areas of weakness in relationships and life?  How can you best go about maximizing your strengths and moderating (or fixing!) your weaknesses?

You can take a simple, free test in about 3 minutes here.

Then go to www.personalitypage.com and type in your letters.

If you want a more in-depth look, I would recommend the book Please Understand Me by David Kiersey.

There is also another, non-Myers-Briggs temperament testing system that uses the categories Choleric, Sanguine, Phlegmatic, and Melancholy.  Beverly LaHaye wrote The New Spirit Controlled Woman, a Christian book using these temperament types to look at types, marriage, communication styles, anger & depression (most of us struggle with one or the other!), and ministry roles.  Those are also great tools!ESTJ

So me?  I am an ESTJ – the Organizer and Administrator.  I am 80% Choleric and 20% Sanguine, just so we don’t forget to have some fun while we are out conquering and organizing the world!

How about you? Have you ever used temperament testing in ministry or your marriage?

* Special thanks to Tom Fuerst at http://thefuerstshallbelast.wordpress.com/ for bringing up temperaments and reminding me about this ministry tool we often overlook!

** I’ll put the link my Resources page so you can find it later.