Reflections of a trainee pastor, part 1

I’m starting to write this on the train home from my induction week at Spurgeon’s College in London, where I am starting study as I train to become a Baptist minister. (I suspect I won’t have time to finish it on the train. If so, I’ll finish it later.)

pastor in training 1

It’s been a good week, and these are some (fairly unstructured) cogitations it has sparked.

Character matters

I’m going to be studying a lot of theology in the next few years. That important, because thinking right about God, talking right about God, these things matter. I’ll also be learning practical things – preaching, pastoral care, leadership, how to conduct a funeral. These things matter too. Pastors should be competent.

But the emphasis this week wasn’t on knowledge or skills. It was on character. One tutor said this:

I would rather have a pastor who was a good person but couldn’t preach to save their life than a phenomenal preacher who doesn’t have integrity.

This is important. Over the next three years (at college and in my church), I’m going to be invested in as a person. My walk with God. My personality. My character. These are important things to get right. I pray I do.

I do wonder though: do we sometimes emphasise capability over character?

Journeys are better with friends

I made friends this week. We laughed, shared stories, played cards, got to know each other, talked deep stuff, and (unexpectedly) saw a football match. Someone bought me a pie.

I’m starting this journey of training and formation, and I’m glad there are folk doing it with me. Of course my wife, my family and my friends (I have fantastic friends who I love!) are with me, but they’re not also training. They’re doing other wonderful things!

There’s something wonderful about going through a situation or process or season of life with people who are doing exactly the same thing. It creates support, encouragement, energy, perseverance.

Life can be lonely. Church ministry can be very lonely. Im glad training and college won’t be.

I’m excited for this life!

This week has reminded me just how much I’m excited to be in the kind of work, the kind of ministry, I’m in! I’m excited to be a pastor. I’m excited to train, but I’m even more excited to be doing it.

I first sensed a calling to church ministry when I was 17. I was excited then, and I still am now. I’m looking forward to following this where God leads.

Why mention that? I just hope I’m still as excited in three years when training finishes. And in ten. And thirty. And fifty years. If you fancy praying that I would be, I wouldn’t mind.

(Turns out, I did finish it on the train…)

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