Thinking about ministry and concerned about your ‘theological’ preparation?
Consider that some of the greatest “pastor-theologians” (biblical authors) were entrenched in mundane occupations and the plain things of life for decades before God opened the door to ministry. For instance, consider Jeffery Niehaus’s words that remind us of Moses’ calling and equipping:
When Moses flees to Midian, he learns to be a husband (Ex 2:2), a father (v. 22), and a shepherd (3:1). These [plain things] are theologically important facts for him, because he now encounters the God who chooses to become a husband (Jer. 31:32; Eze 16:1ff–both reflecting the Exodus events), a father (Dt 1:31), and a shepherd (Ge 49:24) to his people (God at Sinai: Covenant & Theophany in the Bible and the Ancient Near East, 185).
For 40 years, Moses learned the plain things of life–caring for a wife, leading a family, and tending a flock. Each of these prepared him for his ministry to Israel, and his ability to record God’s Word. Likewise, for us, marriage and work, the common but significant lot which all humans enjoy (or despise), prepare us greater Christian service. In fact, 1 Timothy 3 disqualifies ministers who fail at home. Thus marriage (which pictures Christ’s love for the church), fatherhood (which reflects God’s love for his adopted children), and vocation (which requires thoughtful creativity, organization, and physical strength, resemble God’s work in the world), all demonstrate aspects about God and his gospel. And thus, all of these “plain things” prepare you and I for more fruitful service.
Moses example teaches us to stop fearing insufficient training and to recall the fact that for those who God has called, he will use all of life to prepare us for our “received” ministry (cf. John 3:27; Col. 4:17). So, while we ought to look for ways to further our knowledge of god (cf. Ps 111:2; 2 Pet 3:18), we should at the same time realize that all of life points to God, and prepares us for useful service–with or without “theological training.”
In the plain things are hidden the main things, if we look at them with eyes of faith and minds renewed by God’s Word. In this way, God reminds us that he is the one who uniquely prepares us for his service, and that our plans are accomplished according to his steps (Prov 16:9). May we seek God and see him in all of life, so that we may better communicate the divine truths of God’s word as we encounter the daily regimen of life.
Soli Deo Gloria, dss