Why would a guy in his mid-40s, who already has the highest degree in his field and a solid profession in school administration, be surfing the Western Theological Seminary website? It seemed as though I was being called by the Hound of Heaven.1 While one or two knocks are subtle, “That Voice [was] round me like a bursting sea… I am he whom Thou seekest!”2
As a kid growing up in the Interlaken Reformed Church, seminary was not on my radar. I knew I was called to teach and to devote myself to education. Yet, in recent years I had been conflicted about my calling. Stumbling upon the interconnectedness between minister and administer, I realized an “administrator” in purest form is one who is called (“ad”) to serve (“minister”). In the public sector, discipleship in executive leadership is not overtly practiced, but I was in need of continued study, prayer, and skill development to lead with a heart of Christ.
What seemed to be just “poking around” on the seminary website led to me realize the intricate relationship between ministry and school leadership. I became a student in the fall of 2017, seeking an M.Div. through Western’s distance learning program (I live in Palmyra, NY).
Whether through prayer, discussion, learning covenant, or my personal life, the idea of call is persistent. Why am I in seminary? For what reason am I knocking myself out studying and interning on top of my regular workload? How does this fit in my life? My call has certainly been challenged.
From my young adult leadership experiences at Camp Fowler (RCA), to my role as a school superintendent and now as a student at Western, God is changing me, refining me for a future in ministry as a servant leader, caring for others as they stumble and walk on a journey with Christ.
Although it is not yet clear how God will use me once I have completed a degree at Western, my studies and interactions with amazing professors and students have put me on a trajectory to be a more faithful servant. In the short-term, I am being shaped in ways that reflect how “the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.”3 Psalm 33 blends the act of singing in praise to God with the reminder that God has formed all hearts and rules over all. The Psalmist reminds me to put my hope in the Lord.
1 Thompson, Francis. The Hound of Heaven. Reprint. London: Forgotten Books: 2016.
3 Ps. 33:5 (NRSV).