Our guest blogger today is Wade Phillips, who blogs at “A Good Infection“. He’s a TV news anchor in MS and a husband/father/deacon/SS Teacher combo!
After several years of prayer and thought, I have decided to make the leap. If all goes as planned, I will begin seminary classes during the summer session at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Since I currently work full-time in a non-ministry position, I will be taking classes online, at least in the beginning. At some point, I’ll have to come from behind my computer and take classes with the rest of the world. But for now, this is what I can do.
I have sensed for several years a call into the some kind of vocational ministry work. I still don’t know exactly what that will look like, though I’ve been recently doing a fair amount of preaching, both at my own church, and as a guest preacher in other churches in my community. I also teach an adult Sunday School class, and on occasion, our church’s youth group. Teaching and preaching seem to be the center of my calling, in whatever form that may take in coming years. This calling has been affirmed by those who know me, including my own church, which officially affirmed that Sunday night, when they approved my seminary application. I’m certainly willing to do whatever God calls me to do in the coming years.
I don’t know what others’ experiences were like as they dealt with the possibility of a calling into ministry. Mine has been long and painstaking. I have sensed something for 3-4 years now, but as I look back on it, I believe God has been preparing me for this for much longer than this; maybe my entire life, certainly the last decade or so. It was only recently that my wife, a Southern Baptist preacher’s daughter herself, told me she was ready and prepared to do whatever God was calling me to do. I was confident that God would reveal himself to her just as he did to me, and had been waiting for that. It was the confirmation I needed to move forward.
I go into this with eyes, I think, pretty wide open to what the ministry is like. I have a father-in-law who has spent the last 3 decades as a pastor. My grandfather was one for 40 years. I am the chairman of the deacons at my church this year, and am heavily involved in both ministry and day to day business. I’ve seen the ugly side of both. My pastor is gracious to share both his difficulties and his joys with me. I have paid pretty close attention to SBC politics over the last several years, and have consumed copious amounts of ministry information through various blogs and books. I’m nearly 40 years old. I’ve worked in the media for almost half my life. I am no longer surprised by the depravity of man. But I’m sure surprises will come.
So here I am, at the very beginning of this journey. I know that many of you have been right here yourselves, so I hope you might be willing to share some advice for me as I get started. Please share advice about, but not limited to, the following questions:
1 – If you did seminary while working full time, with a family, how did you balance it?
2 – If you have taken classes online, are there some particular issues that go along with that which I ought to be thinking about?
3 – What might I be surprised by as I move forward? What potential pitfalls ought I be on the lookout for?
I’d love to have answers to these and any other questions you think might be pertinent as I move forward. Also, feel free to ask me any questions you might have. Thanks in advance. I covet your prayers.