Important: I have left the remainder of this post “as was,” but I no longer recommend or endorse JD Hall, Pulpit & Pen, and its associated personalities.
You’re a seminary student. What does God want you to be doing right now? Because, you know, it’s not just about just being buried in NA28 and Big Kittel. Have you “settled”?
We had a chapel message recently that focused on this in a semi-context of church planting. I’ve advanced it to 15:35 for you. Listen to it for about a minute if you don’t want the whole thing.
This chapel message had many issues, especially concerning whether the text in Genesis is actually teaching a warning against “settling” or whether the speaker simply used the text as a jumping point for the preferred speaking topic. Even the Life Application Study Bible makes this observation concerning the text of Genesis 11:31.
God’s will may come in stages. Just as the time in Haran was a transition period for Abram, so God may give us transition periods and times of waiting to help us depend on him and trust his timing. If we patiently do his will during the transition times, we will be better prepared to serve him as we should when he calls us. [emphasis added]
This particular clip about not having received a job offer incited my most aggressive note-taking of the day. Dr. Edwards’ overall point — don’t be a sedentary seminary student who is only interested in book study — may be valid for some, but there’s at best a serious miscommunication about calling here.
I once was “active in ministry” as we tend to call it in our language apparently. The list of titles is quite extensive. Then my spouse and I both left our military careers. We moved to the DFW area to attend seminary. We had our first child. That’s a big life change. So as a matter of disruption to our standard of being good enough, I don’t have a new “ministry position.” My application for a position was turned down. And my employment involves handling and sorting packages for a shipping company on weeknights. It’s high-speed, heavy-lift, manual labor. Have I settled? I even have a friend there who actually does have an M.Div. He couldn’t raise enough funds to continue being a missionary and still support his family. Has he settled? If I still work for the same company three years from now, will I have settled?
The following in particular isn’t what Dr. Edwards specifically says, but it is where the logic arguably leads. “Finding one’s purpose” is Rick Warren’s mantra. And “Do not covet” is the tenth commandment. If a student accuses oneself of settling, that is a particularly deceptive way of justifying one’s covetousness of a ministry position or title as if either of those makes one more useful or ‘righter’ to God. False! Christ’s death and resurrection makes us right with God. Read 1 Cor 12:29 and following. Are all church planters? Are all church staff? The fact is that I have two big ministry jobs right now. One is called “husband.” The other is called “dad.” They’re hugely important to God. Here’s another that we all have: “evangelist.” I pray that I might be more effective in sharing the gospel with my coworkers. And I pray that I might be more effective at discernment in all areas of my ministry, especially the discernment necessary to hate my own sin more than my brother’s.
Have I settled? I settle when I consider titles like “husband” and “dad” not good enough and sinfully desire more rather than putting my energy into those things to which I am called presently. I’ve sinfully desired more “ministry.” I’ve sinfully desired a promotion at my job. Guilty as charged, and very recently at that. I repent.
Let us seek to obey God. Do not covet. And do not add to his commandments. Be faithful in your calling. Seek to serve Him better wherever he calls — yes, including church planting. And trust that your standing with God is in Christ, not your ministry anything.
(PostScript: It was J.D. Hall‘s sermon here that brought me to the realization of the aforementioned sin. Thank you!)