In my first “ministry” class at college I was bombarded by this extremely bitter man for a professor. He presented ministry as if it was difficult, the people were often hurtful and unhelpful, and that life in the church may at times be more brutal than life in corporate America.
I knew better.
Of course I had never actually had a ministry position within a church. But I had read a few books, and I knew that if I plugged in the right formula, knew my Bible, and did it with a smile and warm character that everything would be peachy. I knew that for whatever reason, this guy was just a cynical old man that knew the Bible but probably not much about “how to do church” in the 21st century.
So I shut my ears, my mind, and my heart to this professor. Besides, his class was at 8:00am and provided a great opportunity for me to zone out, try to catch a nap, or work on other more important homework.
Then summer hit and I got a position in a church.
The next semester I had a class with this “bitter old man” but it was different. Now, rather than rejecting his counsel and dismissing him as a lift over fossil from the 1950’s that the school was keeping around only because he was tenured, I now saw this man as a valuable help. This bitter old man turned into a seasoned, wise, and even loving counselor.
Once I began actually engaging in ministry, (and might I add—getting swallowed up in ministry), I discovered that my view of ministry was the one that needed to change. This wise professor had experienced ministry heartbreak first hand. And, as he would later explain in a class, he has a heart for us students and wanted to prepare us for the reality of ministry among broken and sinful people.
Deprivation has a tendency to create value.
This has taught me at least two valuable lessons about ministry, and I will expound on these later today:
#1 If they are “bored” maybe they aren’t doing missions
#2 Maybe missions should go before (or simultaneously with) training