Ministry Like No Other
Jesus said it best in John 15:5: Apart from me you can do nothing. As a pastor, you either learn early to write that over the door of your heart or you don’t last long in ministry. It’s really just that simple. One of my favorite passages in my first few years of ministry was Mark 4:26-28 where Jesus tells the parable of the seed. It’s very pithy, there are just a couple of verses. The farmer plants the seed and then he goes to bed. When he gets up, lo and behold, the seed has germinated, grown, and he knows not how. Of course, we know how. We know it’s the grace of God.
God has invested this gospel truth in you, but it’s not about you because you can’t do anything to save people or sanctify people.
You realize pretty early that the call to pastoral ministry is not like anything else you’re going to do in life. You’re likely not going to have product at the end of the day. You’re not going to have widgets that you’ve made. You’re not going to have a byline at the top of the page or anything like that.
God Makes It Grow
You’re going to sow the seed and then, Lord willing, God’s going to pour his grace on it through the Spirit and it’s going to germinate and grow, but you may never see that. You’re not going to live to see the end of it, for sure.
You learn really early that you are dependent upon him, that you are weak, that you are a clay pot as Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians 4. You’re just Walmart crockery. God has invested this gospel truth in you, but it’s not about you because you can’t do anything to save people or sanctify people. As much as you want to do that, apart from him, you can do nothing. You either learn that and it humbles you, or you don’t last very long in ministry.
Seminary can by no means teach a minister everything he needs to know, but it puts strong tools in his box to set him up for a lifetime of learning and growing in the Lord.
Seminary is dangerous. Its gospel fragrance proves life-giving to many. But for others—far too many others—its aroma can lead to death.
Seminary education is to the church what basic training in the military is to war.