I have been privileged to pass through four Bible schools and receive theological training. There is a focused sharpening that school gives you that if rightly used can be a great blessing. It is worth stating that Bible schools do not make pastors, churches do. The discipleship instruction in 2 Timothy 2:2, “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” is given in the context of the local church. With that said, Bible schools are a helpful complement to churches in training men. They come alongside churches in training men for the work of ministry. Last week I shared three things I learnt from Bible school, this week I will share three things I did not learn from Bible school.
- The complicated nature of life and ministry
When you read textbooks and discuss principles in class, things are often black and white and the ideal is presented and assumed. However, the moment you step out of the classroom you discover that life and ministry are not black and white or even ideal. It is those unforeseen and unexpected circumstances that one has to navigate through regularly. Matters of ethics can get complicated very quickly when real lives are involved!
- The slow nature of growth
In discussing ministry philosophy and methodology in Bible school, you often talk about steps to follow and procedures to apply in order to have success. It sounds straightforward such that Bible school graduates often end up overestimating their abilities and the impact, they will have if they follow these steps. When you jump into the trenches of ministry, you soon realise that progress and growth is often a slow process and the minister, like the farmer must exercise patience and play the long game.
- The emotional investment involved
Furthermore, a classroom can never prepare you for the emotional rollercoaster that life is. You have to learn to minister while rejoicing, grieving, mourning, despairing or experiencing the blues. I remember one day, I had to officiate a wedding and conduct a funeral in one morning. Talk about a rollercoaster of emotions!
I am thankful for the many lessons I learnt in theological schools. I gained valuable tools for ministry. However, the classroom and textbooks have their limitations. There are some things you can only learn while doing life with others in the context of the local church.