Prepared to Be a Pastor?
A post by guest blogger, Glen Dornsife, M.Div. student at Northeastern Seminary:
Working in the hospitality industry as a server, the topic of “What am I doing with my life?” often comes up with those I wait on. I don’t know if it’s my age or their hope that I can get out of the restaurant business. But often, when I explain to others that I am at seminary working toward a Master of Divinity degree, their response is “What does that mean?” Generally, depending on the situation, I respond by saying that the degree prepares me to be a pastor.
There have been a few, who are on the other side of the cusp, who have shared with me how there is a big gap between education and assimilation. I have heard rumors of those who have graduated from Bible College or Seminary and entered ministry overqualified and under prepared. For those of you who are considering seminary in preparation for ministry, I apologize if that last statement makes your stomach turn. It is true though, success in knowing the material does not equate to success in living the material out.
Fortunately, the educational experience I am receiving at Northeastern Seminary has allotted me the opportunity to do four required field education experiences. When finishing my undergrad degree I was only required to do one field assignment. (At the time, I was an underachiever, so I was grateful for there being only one internship requirement.) Let’s just say that particular experience brought more confusion than clarity in my eager-to-conquer-the-world early twenties. I don’t know if this is a standard practice for other seminaries, but by Northeastern creating this requirement for me, I have the opportunity to experience a few different areas of ministry. As a result, I look at this requirement, purely as benefit in my education. Having to do four assignments affords me the latitude to learn from an “internship” experience that I don’t like, or that doesn’t go well. This intentionally brings more clarity and formation to the students here who are trying to discern God’s call on their life.
So am I prepared? Well, in my first experience as a “faculty advisor” of an undergraduate student-body project, I learned even more about the strengths and weaknesses I have as a leader, and also how to respond healthfully to conflict and the art of delegation. The other experiences planned for fulfilling the other field education assignments are to serve as a college chaplain assistant, to be a TA for a college professor, and to shadow a spiritual formation/discipleship pastor at a local church. I have been intentional with my four opportunities because I wanted to gain experience in distinct areas of “ministry” that I am equally interested in and feel led to do at this point in my life.
Glen Dornsife, M.Div. student