“I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in (me) will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).
What am I doing? Why would I think I can handle this work? I am a farmer not a professional minister like my colleagues. The name of our program is “Leadership & Global Perspectives”. With adopted children and grandchildren representing four other foreign countries I have the global part down. But leadership? How will I attain that?
Last summer when I interviewed for the Doctor of Ministry Program with Dr. Clifford Berger I was honest about my lack of leadership experience. Not only that, but I assured him that at my present conservative church I would never be allowed to be in a leadership position. The only credential I had was a Master’s degree in Bible and Theology. Yet, I was certain that God was calling me to ministry. My heart aches when I see the emotional, physical, and spiritual abuse of women. How will I ever be able to help them?
I am trusting God one day at a time. I feel strongly that the Holy Spirit has led me to Portland Seminary for training in ministry. One year has gone by surprisingly quickly and I believe I have confirmation that I am in God’s will.
Every book, every writing experience, my wonderful cohort, and the Advance to London and Oxford have helped to shape my future ministry. I have gone from being very fearful at the beginning of the year to having some confidence that God is building me up for the task He is going to give me.
Lead Mentor Readings
There hasn’t been a single book that made me wonder why we were supposed to read it. All of the books from Mortimer Adler’s classic How to Read a Book to Sarah Pink’s books on ethnography (a word I had previously never heard of) to the many books on leadership and finally the books on African theology and apartheid, made me think and reflect on ministry and the world around me. The books build on each other adding to my knowledge weekly; I feel that I have grown in my understanding of leadership in an ever-increasing global society. I am becoming a better student and this gives me the confidence I lacked at the beginning of the year.
London and Oxford Advance
It is one thing to talk about the world and another to travel to different places and experience the lives of others. The advances open our eyes to the fact that there are so many other people and other ways of loving and worshipping God than what we might experience in our own corner of the world. I learned to celebrate our unity as Christians in very different parts of the world and at the same time to appreciate the fascinating differences. What a wonderful Creative God – giving us the same desires to love and serve Him and to do justice to others. How marvelous that there are so many unique ways to do it.
A Cohort-based Program
Knowing that I am the only one in my cohort who does not work with people on a daily basis, I worried that I would not fit in. How does someone whose congregation is made up of goats, cows, and chickens relate to professional leaders? May God bless all of my colleagues. They have always treated me like an equal. We love and encourage each other as a family. This summer we had an intensive exercise. It was a struggle for all of us but the sharing and the forum responses got us through. If it was not for the support and inspiration of my cohort, I may have been tempted to throw in the towel. Because they believe in me, I have the confidence to continue in pursuit of God’s calling.
Writing and Journaling
The customized courses are invaluable for training in leadership. With help from my advisor my writing has become more sophisticated. The program is leading up to a dissertation. The project will be public knowledge eventually. I not only want to contribute something to the discussion of justice for women in the church, but I want it to be credible and creditable. My writing still needs to be ramped up a notch or two, but I sense that there has already been a difference since the beginning of the year.
The Personal Leadership Development Plan has been a great way to make a progress check. Spending time reflecting on where I started, where I am going, and how I am going to get there keeps me focused. It gives me a chance to see that I have matured and it gives me the assurance that God is indeed preparing me to serve Him in ministry.
So, what am I doing? I am learning how to lead. A great group of mentors and advisors are helping me in this program. I am doing research on the topic of justice for women in the church. I am participating with a wonderful cohort as we strive to lead in a global context. I am following in the Savior’s footsteps desiring to bring the peace and joy of the Gospel to those who are hurting.