DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Why Am I Doing This?

Written by: on October 18, 2018

Rowntree asks us the question, more frankly asks me the question, “Why are you studying?”[1] Perhaps more contextually, the question should be, “Why are you pursuing a doctoral degree (the glamorous DMin LGP)?” Upon starting my seminary education in January 2017, my original purpose was to acquire a doctoral degree, a terminal degree so my peers would (finally) respect me (and perhaps I also finally respect myself.) Possibly to frame this in a less self-serving light (from my friend who is an admissions advisor for Fuller Houston), “ to provide a tangible culmination of my forty years of pastoral ministry service.”

That statement still appears to be pretty selfish when one considers the considerable cost in time (some five years (for both my MAT and DMin) taken away from one’s family) and finances (some $65K taken away from the family’s financial holdings). Rowntree would describe this initial desire as intrinsic because the reward for completing the prescribed course of study is inherent.[2] That is, I work for what I can get out of my studies rather than what the accomplishment of my studies can do for me. To be honest, this may be because at this point I see (know of) no particular advantage to acquiring my DMin for the denominational and local church work I currently serve. This unusual (for me) not beginning-with-the-end-in-sight approach, has caused me to wrestle with this default intrinsic purpose (for some two years now) as every other educational, or certification effort has served a precise extrinsic purpose, to become more valuable and open up more vocational ministry options. Remarkably to me, my typical former ROI (Return on Investment) approach to investing in one’s education is viewed by Rowntree as problematic. Of all the shortcomings that he describes, I can most relate to “having difficulty getting down to work” (I currently feel I am always struggling to find my rhythm) and, more importantly, “miss out on aspects of the course that might have been intrinsically satisfying.”[3]

As Rowntree admonishes me to continue asking myself the iterative questions of “why am I doing this?”, each iteration brings up both more answers and more questions. He then reminds me that learning involves both a process and a product.[4] In my view, the product includes the content of the courses as well as the network of relationships developed among classmates and professors. I have always found I learn as much (or more) from the in-the-flesh persons in my classes as the persons and perspectives revealed in course content. There is an undeniable bond that has been formed among those personalities God has brought into my life through the seminary process. The last two years have been primarily in master’s level classes at Fuller Seminary in Houston. I rejoice every time I get to connect with any of these students, these professors, these friends. While I will complete my MAT this quarter and walk in graduation next June, these relationships (this product) will continue to produce dividends for the rest of my life.

This last Monday in our asynchronous call, I mentioned how I was pleasantly surprised to experience and expect the continuation of this relational learning content. In my doctoral “family” praying for me (funny how God puts you in positions of vulnerability that you most definitely did not intend), God spoke to me of my desperate need of every person and what God teaches me through each life, each experience. Unbeknownst to any of us, a photo was taken that now serves as the background on my computer screens. This photo will continue to remind me that my doctoral family is the greatest gift God has given me, has given us for this three-year doctoral pilgrimage.

Dropping back a bit, Rowntree reminds us that learning how to study is learning how to learn.[5] I am discovering the emphasis on the process of learning as the principal distinction between master’s level studies and doctoral studies. Dr. Jason Clarke is consistent in his promise (threat?) to continue to push (shove?) us to think critically. I imagine we would all agree that Adler and Bayard most definitely are much more about the process of learning to learn rather than simply about content. Rowntree continues to challenge me as I consider learning as understanding. That is not only new ideas and new approaches but patterns and relationships that help me to make sense of disconnected concepts.[6] I see this critical understanding in learning the art of sifting through various vaults of sources to select the most germane items to fit into one’s research structure.

Rowntree also challenges me to consider learning for application. I am a pastor, and I love pastors, and I love local churches. While I value and appreciate those sections of the Church that extend beyond local churches, my life, my research is devoted to helping local churches, local pastors fulfill their call to build his kingdom where they are. Therefore, my theology and my scholarship have and will continue to be forged on the anvil of local church applications. For me, this is assisting pastors in developing their adaptive leadership skills through vibrant coaching networks.

Finally, Rowntree challenges me to consider learning for personal development. I am already experiencing how this learning process is changing me into hopefully a wiser and more capable person.[7] Because of this unexpected epiphany, I have discovered I have a new answer to the question of, “Why am I doing this?” That is, I am doing this to share what I am learning to all within my circle of influence, primarily my global Vineyard coaching network(s). With humility and grace, I am dreaming about how he will bless his pastors, his churches through this learning process.

[1] Rowntree, Derek, Learn How to Study: A Realistic Approach, rev. ed. (London, UK: Warner Books, 1998) 13.

[2] Rowntree, Learn How to Study, 16.

[3] Rowntree, Learn How to Study, 17.

[4] Rowntree, Learn How to Study, 19.

[5]Rowntree, Learn How to Study, 19.

[6] Rowntree, Learn How to Study, 20.

[7] Rowntree, Learn How to Study, 22.


About the Author


Harry Fritzenschaft

Harry is the Coordinator of Coaching for Multiply Vineyard (the church planting resource arm for Vineyard USA) and part-time pastor of business administration for the Vineyard Church of Houston. He is a certified coach with the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and is pursuing a DMin in Leadership and Global Perspective with a focus on internal coaching networks. Harry has been married to Gloria for almost forty-two years and has two grown children; Michelle, who is married to Brandon and has two sons (Caleb and Judah), and Mark, who is engaged to Cannus. He loves making new friends (living and dead) from different perspectives, watching college football with Mark, and helping global ministry leaders (especially church planters and pastors) accomplish their goals in fulfilling their call. He especially loves learning about and nurturing internal coaching networks.

15 responses to “Why Am I Doing This?”

  1. mm Mary Mims says:

    Harry, when I think about what drives us to continue our learning process, at as you mention, at such a high cost, just in terms of money and time, I think we forget that God may have also called us to do this. We often think we are making these decisions, but God is ordering our steps for His own purpose. I know this is not in our books, but the intrinsic reasons is often hard to pin down. I laugh at a young boy in my church pointing out that I was old, and why was I still at the Graduate’s dinner our church has to honor graduates. I thank God for guiding us in this journey and making our paths cross. I am sure we will understand it as time goes on.

    • mm Harry Fritzenschaft says:

      Dear Mary,
      Thank you so much for reminding all of us, that while we all played a part in our doctoral decisions, ultimately it comes down to God calling us to this, at this time (as inconvenient as it may be), for his purpose. You are such an encouragement and blessing as you bring your experienced leadership, your analytical insight, and your passion for learning. I agree, we will grow to understand his purposes and motivations over time. Meanwhile, he has given us the gift of our cohort and professors as we journey together. Glo says hi and blessings on you, H

  2. mm Rev Jacob Bolton says:

    I agree with Mary. God’s call is certainly a foundational element to our all being together here in Cohort 9.

    Whether it is a nudge, challenge, push or shove, know that we all will be praying Harry, and may that image on your desktop prove as a constant reminder.

  3. mm Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    Thanks so much for your prayers and your perspective. Yes, I often look at that photo and wonder what the Lord is up to in this doctoral journey. Blessings on you and yours, H

  4. mm Karen Rouggly says:

    During Hong Kong, Sarita gave me a Holy Spirit Pep Talk. She essentially reminded me that if I truly believe that God has called me to this work, that God has a vested interest in seeing it through to completion. If what I am doing is the Lord’s work, which I believe it is, the Lord wants it completed to the best of my ability as much as I do. The Lord feels the same about your work too, Harry. I hope and pray that in this season, you find the confidence in this work that God sees in you!

    • mm Jenn Burnett says:

      Wow! I wish she’d given that speech to all of us!

    • mm Harry Fritzenschaft says:

      “I hope and pray that in this season, you find the confidence in this work that God sees in you!” Thanks so much for sharing your Holy Spirit perspective! Yes, I do feel this is the work God sees in me, has called me to participate in. Thanks so much for reminding me, he wants to see it come to fruitful completion more than I. Blessings, H

  5. mm Jenn Burnett says:

    Harry, I know why the Lord has made us friends! (Ok, one more reason of many!) I have often struggled to strive towards any goal beyond the intrinsic value of my study. Given the value Rowntree places on having multiple motivations to keep us going through study, perhaps you could help me find some of the extrinsic motivations to study?

    • mm Harry Fritzenschaft says:

      What a dear friend you are; kind, encouraging, and challenging! I had mentioned earlier, perhaps I could coach you for a season to help you process your thoughts towards clarity. If you would like, how about contact me at and let’s set up a trial coaching session and see where that leads us? Regardless, like all of us, I am for you and happy to help in anyway I can. Blessings, H

  6. Hey German Harry, this is Apologetics Harry. Hahahaha! I guess that’s what we’ll be known from this point on. Part of my educational goals is to be able to pronounce your last name. Joking aside, I regret not asking you about that during our time in Hong Kong.

    Thank you for sharing your heart in this. Sometimes doubt creeps in and I do ask the question myself: “Why am I doing this?” This, meaning this DMin program we’re all in.

    One of the folks I respect and look up to at work responded when I informed him that I was considering doctoral studies: “Why would you do that? It won’t matter in your current position.” I didn’t expect that reaction.

    Whatever my motivations, conscious or unconscious; wether or not I had considered any intrinsic/extrinsic value gained, it didn’t so much matter as I was, perhaps, seeking affirmation for something good I was contemplating. Maybe it was unwise to share with that person but God at that moment reminded me that I shouldn’t be seeking approval of men/women, but rather focus on obeying God’s call on my life.

    I don’t know what the future holds, but I just want to be better equipped for God’s kingdom purposes. That’s why I’m pursing a DMin. Will I be faithful? Will I be obedient to the call? It’s a scary thought.

    • mm Harry Fritzenschaft says:

      Apologetics Harry,
      “I don’t know what the future holds, but I just want to be better equipped for God’s kingdom purposes. That’s why I’m pursing a DMin. Will I be faithful? Will I be obedient to the call?” You are a passionate and diligent learner of the things of God. God has you here both to fulfill your calling and to stimulate us/me to do the same. You will be faithful, you will be obedient. Why? Because God has wired you that way. Blessings dear Harry, H

  7. mm Shermika Harvey says:

    Harry, your statement of the unexpected epiphany … I have discovered I have a new answer to the question of, “Why am I doing this?” That is, I am doing this to share what I am learning to all within my circle of influence. This statement resounds loudly the reason I continue my education and seek this doctoral degree. The knowledge and experience acquired in the program will help set a precedent for others to following in the body of Christ.

    • mm Harry Fritzenschaft says:

      “The knowledge and experience acquired in the program will help set a precedent for others to follow in the body of Christ.” Shermika, I look forward to finding out more about your research and how you will influence those around to follow Christ more. Blessings, H

  8. mm Tammy Dunahoo says:

    Thanks, Harry. I find asking the “purpose” questions to be the most developmental process I ever engage. This internal interrogation is really good for me and necessary to understanding. Our tendencies to formulas, strategies and outcomes can cause us to miss the deeper work that for me, is really the point. Becoming. I hear you asking those questions and I look forward to this journey as a community of learners.

  9. mm Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    You are a wise, amazing leader and I really appreciate your insights. “This internal interrogation is really good for me and necessary to understanding.” I love this “aggressive” term, internal interrogation. I love this, because I am prone to qualify my intentions by my actions rather than qualify my intentions by his deeper work within me. Thanks so much for doing the deeper, harder work within and reminding us/me to do the same. So thankful to have you in our cohort, H

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