My Vocation of Ministry seminary class homework has included taking various inventories – personality type, spiritual gifts, witnessing style, conflict management style, and more. For years those of us in discipleship ministries have been using these type of inventories as a starting point for self-discovery, personal growth, and reflection on types of ministry people might be most suited for. Please explore some of the links below for yourself and for those you spend time with!
Personality types – why we use them, testing website, and the four basics (because it’s easier to grasp than Myers-Briggs or the Enneagram, though I’m a fan of those too!) personality-types-and-discipleship
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:
-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.
I had no idea. I’ve been thinking about how life with God is such an adventure. Last January 1st I spent time reflecting on the previous year, and in prayer. God gave me Hebrews 11:8 as a theme verse for the year. Then on January 2nd I read this in My Utmost for His highest:
I didn’t know what was next. I wasn’t expecting anything unusual really. Then in March I spent a weekend with Sandy Richter, and two weeks later I knelt on the grave of Paul in Rome and the words that came out of my mouth were, “Lord, help me be faithful to preach the Word, in season and out of season.” (Is the Word ever out-of-season?!) In April I applied to seminary, in May I was accepted at Asbury, in June I stood in the pulpit on a Sunday morning as a guest speaker for the first time, and in September I started classes. A year ago seminary was not on my To Do List, and here I am one semester into the game.
I still don’t know what’s next, other than the Inductive Study of Mark class I registered for this spring. I really am enjoying being in seminary, but I don’t have an end game… In fact, not knowing “why” makes school a continual faith exercise… I am here because I am obedient, not because I have a plan. As long as I check-in with The Master Planner on a regular basis, He will certainly keep me headed in the right direction.
My verse for 2018 is Isaiah 43:19 “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” I wonder what the new year holds… I wonder if I am already standing ankle deep in the rising river waters? Last January I didn’t give my theme verse much thought, this year I am paying attention!
Tell your story – How has God been busy in your life this last year?
I’ve turned in my research paper and finished my final exam – my first seminary class is done! Thank you to all of you who have supported me (to the ladies at The River who paid for my books!) and encouraged me not to lose sight of the end (you who take my phone calls when I need to vent, you know who you are!). A special thank you to Lynn Haven UMC who has been flexible with me studying, travelling for class, and given me a quiet office space.
For Introduction to the New Testament I read 6 books (about 1400 pages) this fall, and listened to some 40 hours of lectures online or in person, wrote a research paper on interpretations of Luke 16 (the Parable of the Dishonest Steward), and took two exams. I have no idea how people in full-time ministry with families can take more than one class at a time! (Be nice to pastors you know who are still in school!)
I discovered that I procrastinate by cleaning and doing laundry, so my house is still looking pretty good. Ha ha. I really enjoyed the academic work, but that is my nature. I was overjoyed to discover that my background in sociopolitical systems and other cultures is very relevant to modern Biblical studies. I found time management challenging – it was difficult to evaluate how much time to give to various projects, since they always expand to fill whatever time is allotted. I was annoyed to have to give up other activities to make time for studying… (I am coming back to tennis, I promise!) I struggled to keep things in perspective – when I had 100 pages of reading to do and it was 10pm, but my teenager wants to talk… then I would choose to set the book down and talk. In the end I keep reminding myself – I have a family, a job, a ministry, and friends – seminary is extra. Stay with it for the long haul, but keep it in its proper place.
Thanks to all who have asked how I am surviving. Now, time to celebrate!
My first class at Asbury Theological Seminary this fall is an Introduction to the New Testament. For those who have asked, this is my required reading list:
The King Jesus Gospel by Scot McKnight The Shadow of the Galilean by Gerd Theissen Who Chose the Gospels: Probing the Great Gospel Conspiracy by CE Hill Recovering the Full Mission of God: A Biblical Perspective on Being, Doing, and Telling by Dean Fleming What Saint Paul Really Said by NT Wright Honor, Patronage, Kinship, & Purity: Unlocking New Testament Culture by David deSilva
There must be one hundred different ways to design a syllabus for a class like this, I’ve compared a few and they can be very different! My professor is a retired missionary from Kenya, and I’m excited for the cultural aspects he appears to be bringing to the class.
There are also many different ways to be a distance-learner. This class is a full semester (Sept-Dec) with weekly reading assignments, discussions, and video lectures. We meet in person mid-semester at Asbury’s extension campus in Orlando for 3 days in late October… that makes it a “hybrid” class. As an extrovert I actually hate having to study by myself and interact online… but that’s just the best I can do for this phase of life!
If you’re a Facebook user, follow this blog here and I promise to at least offer up random bits for discussion as I go along!
I have no idea what I have gotten myself into. Today I received an acceptance letter from Asbury Theological Seminary to start an M.A. in Biblical Studies this fall, as a long-distance learner. Last week I asked Dr. Sandy Richter “Are you aware that God has used you to call me, thus disrupting my relatively peaceful sheep-herding existence?!” Two months ago, seminary was not on my mind. The call of God is sometimes like that – sudden, clear, unmistakable, and always life-changing.
This January God gave me, “And Abraham obeyed, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8) as my verse for the year. I raised my eyebrows a bit at that one – my first clue that this could be an interesting year!
Then in March God called me to seminary,
through a weekend spent with Dr. Richter and the unanimous affirmation of my pastoral colleagues and students. I will never forget my first discussion with my pastor-friend Rudy Olivo. He listened to me for a long-time, and then he asked me three times, “Are you called?” I nodded slowly, “Yes, I know this in my heart to be true. This is what God is calling me to.” So, my answer was “yes” even though I didn’t know exactly what I was saying yes to!
When I told my Isaiah class that God was calling me to seminary but I was not sure exactly why, they looked at me like I was crazy. “To teach, of course!” they exclaimed. I am passionate about teaching and I thrive in the classroom environment, interacting with students and helping them connect Biblical truth with their daily lives. Over the last two months, He has continued to give me courage and clarify the details of this new call.
And so the adventure begins. It’s a two-year degree if you go full-time, but I hope to finish it in 4-5 years without leaving my current ministry (which should be about the time my youngest will finish high school). By doing Biblical Studies I will mostly be dealing with inductive study of the text, some Greek and Hebrew, and some theology, which fits what I’m really interested in.
Please pray for me, for continued direction and wisdom, for funding, and for my sweet family as I attempt to balance my current commitments and this new project. I have experienced the emotional roller coaster of excitement and amazement that God would call me, then terror and fear as the task feels beyond me, and slowly I presume I will settle into a place of hard work and dependence on His grace!
Applying for this program really is an act of faith for me. I am not certain what the outcome will be, but I identify with what Oswald Chambers wrote in My Utmost For His Highest, “One of the difficulties in Christian work is this question – What do you expect to do? You do not know what you are going to do; the only thing you know is that God knows what He is doing.” (January 2)