How did you know?

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by ReformedBaptist, Jul 1, 2010.

  1. ReformedBaptist

    ReformedBaptist
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    Those of you who have completed seminary training, or are in seminary...how did you know for certain that God wanted you to do it?
     
  2. Siberian

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    I did not know for sure. I sensed a need for more training, and I prayed earnestly for God to show me what to do. When it came down to applying for seminary, I did it by faith, trusting that God would guide me through that decision.

    NOW, I see for certain that that was his plan.
     
  3. Baptist Believer

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    The word “certain” is a funny word in the midst of a life of faith.

    - I am certain that God loves me. (scripture confirms this)
    - I am certain that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. (scripture confirms this)
    - I am certain that I know Jesus personally and experientially. (scripture confirms this)
    - I am certain that Jesus has called me to follow him in discipleship. (scripture confirms this)

    However, I am highly confident, not certain, that God specifically called me to train for Christian ministry that may or may not express itself in the traditional vocational ministry categories.

    The reason I say I am confident, as opposed to certain, is that there is no objective scripture telling me that I am personally being called to take this action. A calling from God is necessarily a subjective thing. I rarely have any doubts about it, but it is hard to explain to someone else how I have confidence in the calling since it is not expressed in a vocational ministry sense. However, those who have been in my Sunday School classes, been with me at “divine encounters” (personal evangelism opportunities) or have heard me preach, tell me that it is clear God is using me in a non-traditional way. It is harder to see that simply from my perspective.

    When I responded to God’s call to “vocational ministry” (which really wasn’t since I don’t make my living from preaching the gospel – but we don’t have another expression for it) as a second-year college student, it was at the end of a 17-month period of intensely seeking God and immersing myself in the reading and study of scripture. I literally spent anywhere between two to six hours each evening reading the Bible, thinking and praying through everything that I read. During this period, I’m not sure how many times I read the Bible through since I didn’t necessarily read it in the traditional order, but I probably read the more obscure books of the Old Testament at least three to four times (I’m looking at you, Numbers!) and the more mainstream books (Genesis, Isaiah, 1 Samuel, the Psalms) up to a dozen times. I read the New Testament at an even higher rate than that! It was clear to me that the Holy Spirit was guiding my study, and the Spirit gave me tremendous insight into the scripture and allowed me to put things together in such a way that I had a cohesive framework of understanding on which to build my theology. When I listened to the teaching of others, I knew what questions to ask and could discern truth from error more easily because of my familiarity with the scripture.

    At some point, I’m not really sure when it happened, I started sensing that God wanted to use me in a way beyond just being a faithful church member. God was giving me opportunities to lead people to Christ on a regular basis, and my continuous questioning of our church’s vocational staff in matters of theology and practical Christian living began to give me the sense that something was going on in my life that I couldn’t easily explain. At some point, a friend, who was a ministry student, asked me if I thought God might be calling me to full-time Christian service. I told him no, then immediately had to retract my statement. He challenged me to pray about it and ask God for the answer.

    I prayed and regularly fasted for several months until I realized that God was calling me to take the next step and prepare for Christian ministry. I was given no guarantees, no roadmap, no vision of my “career path”, or anything like that. The only thing I knew was that I was being called to prepare for Christian ministry at Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas (that part was somehow very specific) -- a university I knew nothing about, in a town I had never visited, in a part of the state I didn’t like, without any financial resources available to attend.

    Once I took the step of faith and talked to my immediate family, and then my church family, everything fell into place.

    The first time I visited Brownwood and Howard Payne University was one week before I returned to register for classes.(I was very disappointed by the way things looked. I would have not selected it on the basis of location or appearance.) But not only did I find I made the right decision, God confirmed my calling repeatedly throughout that period.

    If you are wrestling with whether or not God is calling you into “vocational ministry”, I suggest you spend an intensive time in prayer and Bible study in relative secrecy*, with no agenda or timetable, and ask God to teach and lead you as you study His word and commune with Him. As you develop and listening ear and an open heart, God will readily communicate with you and provide guidance for the next step.

    However, unless you have confidence that God is calling you into that kind of life, I do not recommend you pursue vocational ministry. If you are someone who loves God and you the courage of your convictions, you will find it is a very difficult path in the best of circumstances. If you are not confident in your calling, you won’t have the endurance to stand when everything seems to be against you.

    Furthermore, I suggest you listen to the counsel of others during this period. As you undertake this time of secret* immersion in prayer and God’s word, those who are led of the Holy Spirit will be led to counsel you regarding this issue.

    *If you tell lots of people you are struggling with the issue of God’s calling, a bunch of well-meaning people are going to give lots of unsolicited advice based on whether or not they think you look and act like a stereotypical “preacher” – and that’s almost always bad advice.
     
  4. ReformedBaptist

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    I appreciate the replies. And I have been doing as Baptist Believer suggests, studying, reading, et. It is been absolutely wonderful. I so enjoy studying God's Word. I am working through the OT in reading, Revelation verse by verse, John Broadus' work on sermon prep and delivery, and J.A. Wylie's history of Protestantism.

    I give as much time as duty and responsibility allows. I am more confident that God has called me to train in a more formal manner. Thanks for your words and encouragement.
     
  5. Tom Bryant

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    For me it was because I knew that God had called me to ministry and I could be better used by Him if I had as thorough a preparation as possible.
     
  6. Greektim

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    I've been putting this post off, but I think it is commons sense so...

    Do you have to go into ministry to learn the Word of God? If you feel called to increase your knowledge in the Word (I think I read that somewhere ;)) then go anyways. It can't hurt.
     
  7. ReformedBaptist

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    As a father, I am the shepherd of my own house, and I have six children to instruct in the ways of God. Some formal training would be greatly helpful, as well as learning to teach and preach better.

    But also the Lord has put it in my heart to work within the church to establish schools of theology. It seems that seminary training is essential.

    Thanks for the input.
     
  8. Joseph M. Smith

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    For me, it was a clear knowledge that preparation was essential for me to carry out this calling. I had grown up in a church whose pastors were scholarly and capable, and because we were close to Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville I had known quite a few seminary students and some faculty. Going to seminary was a given, in that environment.

    I do have to report that my choice of seminaries was temporarily derailed by a set of controversies in the late 1950's, such that a bunch of faculty members left. I perused the catalogs of every Baptist and ecumenical seminary in the country to look for an alternative ... and ended up right at Southern anyway.

    Why? Is this spiritual enough? Cherchez la femme.
     
  9. ReformedBaptist

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    Men:

    Thank you all for your words and sharing your experiences. If the Lord is willing, my wife and I are agreed for me to begin studies in January.
     
  10. brucebaptist

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    :applause:

    make sure that the classes dont start until AFTER deer season and dont conflict with any of the other hunting seasons... especially turkey season. :laugh:
     
  11. Rhetorician

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    Compelled Compunction

    RB,

    I would say that there is a compelling or a compunction to go on to further education just as strongly as there is the "call to preach" itself.

    I am sure you have dealt with the "inner call" and the "outer call" issues. So I would say to apply those as well to the call to go to seminary for further training.

    I would give one caveat however. If you do not have a bachelor's degree, then go back and get one first if at all possible?! But get a degree that is worth something and would allow you to make a living for your family in the possible "hard times" of the ministry. Whatever you do, do not get a degree in religion or ministry on the BA/BS level if you are going to do a graduate seminary degree. Then you may do a lot of double duty. Get a degree and teaching certificate, or some such, so you can make a living.

    Just my two cents worth.

    "That is all!" :smilewinkgrin:
     
  12. ReformedBaptist

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    Good advice. I do have an undergraduate degree already. I completed my undergrad on the exact same advice you have given. My family was not ready for further education until now I think. Completing my BS was very taxing on me and the family.

    I have resolved not to be too concerned about accreditation. The Lord's will be done. Sadly, those institutions that have a regional level of accreditation are very expensive.

    I am looking at Whitefield Theological Seminary. I spoke with a gentleman there and he assured me of its rigor.

    The Lord's will be done.
     
  13. Rhetorician

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    RB,

    Thank you for recognizing what I said formerly as "good advice." WTS is a good seminary and I will assure you that you will get a good education there.

    However, because is it not ATS or Regionally Accredited, the outcome could hold future problems for you. You never want to cut yourself off from what God might ultimately do with your life and ministry b/c you made a cardinal error early.

    If you get a Master of Divinity from Whitefield, then want to go on to do doctoral studies, either Doctor of Ministry-PhD-ThD, then the chances are that you will be rejected for doing so or have to do the Masters all over again.

    I know that the costs and other predicaments associated with accredited programs are high, but they do pay off in the long term. Sometimes, and in my life most times, God's will educationally have been the long, slow, arduous, and painful route.

    Take it from someone who knows. :praying:

    "That is all!"
     
  14. ReformedBaptist

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    I do see practical wisdom in what your saying. I might perhaps look elsewhere if I could see the means to do so. Living in the Atlanta area, Reformed Theological Seminary would be wonderful, except that it runs about $1000.00 per course. It ought not to be this way.

    If the road the Lord seems to be leading me only opens doors outside the world of academia, and the only classrooms becomes my own house and those whom the Lord may give from time to time, then I am glad to servce Him in this manner.
     
  15. TomVols

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    I can testify that Whitefield is no creampuff. I applied and was accepted there but put it off due to family obligations and the like.
     
  16. Humblesmith

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    I had a desire to go. My wife was very hesitant for fear that we wouldn't have the money. I told her that if God wanted me to go, He would provide the money, it would "fall out of the sky" and asked her "if God provides the money, can I go?" She agreed, thinking the money would never come.

    Then I received a substantial check from the phone company by mistake. I sent it back, explaining the mistake. They mailed it back again. I started seminary.
     
  17. ReformedBaptist

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    hahah, awesome story. My wife too was hesitant but it wasn't with regard to money. She was concerned that she would be left behind and that I would be so consumed with study that she would be neglected. I assured her this would not be case if this was God's will, and commenced personal study on my own. This has helped her see that I will be attentive to her and her needs and can study also.

    She is also concerned that the Lord will then send me to be a pastor or to another nation to preach and she doesn't want to be a pastor's wife or live in another country. hahaha! I love the honesty of my wife.
     
  18. SojourningOnEarth

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    I agree. One can be called to vocational ministry (and that call can be confirmed by their local church) and not go to seminary. However, seminary is just a means to be more prepared for the congregation / ministry context that the Lord has prepared for you.
     

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