the life of the mind for the good of the church

That was my advice to a senior Lipscomb Bible major a few weeks ago. She will make a fine minister, but for now she has to take a difficult senior-level course (and pass it to graduate, of course). I commiserated with her bit, since I took the same course, from the same prof.
Then I offered unsolicited advice: to see the course not as a required course, but as discipline of the mind for the sake of ministry. I urged her to pursue the life of the mind for the good of the church. I reminded her that the church needs competent ministers, leaders and teachers. I urged her to persevere for the sake of the rest of us. For the love of pete and all that’s holy, the course is not just a course for a degree, it is one part of a process of preparation for ministry to and on behalf of the church. Instead of short-circuiting that process, immerse yourself in it fully and richly! Do it for yourself and do it for the rest of us.
I was fortunate to have good people in my life who proffered the same advice, and I was blessed with good teachers who understood it themselves and who continue to serve the academy and the church. I was blessed by collegial academic and ministerial stimulation from a circle of friends who have prospered (and still do!) in both the academy and in the church. I was also witness to colleagues in school who took the path of least resistance. Of those few I can think of none that are in ministry at all today. But I’m hopeful for my younger colleague: that she will bless the church by loving God with all her mind. And I’m hopeful for the church, for the rest of us, who will be blessed by the gifts of the rising generation of ministers.

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