It was a week before my first semester of seminary, and I was walking with Brent (a second year student) to the parking lot. I had started on one of my favorite topics – the differences between the different gospels. I was deep into the immediacy of the language of Mark’s gospel when Brent asked, “Are you taking Greek this semester?”
I was not. I felt like I should only be taking things that obviously would contribute to my vocation as a pastor, not messing around with “fun” and “frivolous” topics like Biblical languages. Brent generously passed over my having pronounced a class that he and more than half of my classmates would take as “frivolous,” not to mention the implication that the seminary itself would offer any classes that they did not believe would have bearing on our later ministries. Instead, he focused on my confession that Greek would likely be fun for me.
You have a passion for learning, and a passion for language. That is God’s gift to you. It is part of who you are. God didn’t call part of you, he calls all of you – and he gave you your passions to show you the way. You don’t have to know now what the value will be of having learned Greek – surrender to God’s leadership – God will put the experience of learning Greek to use for his glory, if you surrender this time at seminary to him.
I took Greek. There have been times when it made a real difference to my preaching. But the friends I made in that class have made an even greater difference to me. And most importantly, I learned to enjoy myself in God’s service. This was the greatest gift of all – a gift that I have continually drawn from, and needed continually to be reminded of – it is God’s desire that I find joy in serving God.
Finding joy in ministry is what keeps pastors going, which is the theme of my latest article at Ministry Matters.
Expanded from an article published in the Virginia Advocate, March 2009.