Education, Money, and Leadership
When I was a teenager, I really wanted to go to a Bible college. I listened to all the music CD’s, and my dream was to go to a Bible College. I talked with my pastor about it, and he encouraged me to apply to secular accredited universities in Michigan. I had several scholarship opportunities, and there was no funding, and very little scholarship opportunity for me at Bible College. My pastor also was able to provide ministry training for me in my local church, and gave me several opportunities to be in leadership positions. I was able to practice my ministry in my local church, which was an amazing opportunity. I listened to my pastor’s encouragement, and I ended up attending a community college for my first two years. I then transferred to Michigan State University. While at MSU, I was undecided about my major. In fact, I changed my major a few times. I received several scholarships while I was at MSU, and all of my tuition and course fees were taken care of. I graduated from my undergraduate degree with very little debt, and had an accredited degree. A few years later I decided to attend Urshan Graduate School of Theology. I was also blessed to receive some scholarships, and graduated with some debt. In ministry, I believe it is important to have education and the opportunity to make money. If you take out debt in the form of student loans, you have a responsibility to pay back your debt. You need to have a job and work. Your work ethic is important in your ministry. Those you serve will be people who work hard, and most of them will work forty hours or more a week to support their families. If you are in ministry, you will be accountable to them, and should work hard and earn a living. Ministry is not about making money, but it is important to be able to live within your means and support yourself and your family. It’s not about having the best car or the best house. A minister should not be in extravagant debt, because they are materialistic. Money should never serve as an idol or god in our life. I now work as a hospital chaplain in full time ministry, and because of my education and skills I am able to earn a living. Chaplaincy is one of few fields where I am privileged to serve in a pastoral role while still working for a secular organization.
If you are younger and are thinking about attending college, you have to think about the money you will spend to attend the college and the years it will take to pay back that cost if you use student loans. Several families now days cannot afford to send their children to college, because it is very expensive. Many parents have not saved money for their children, and children will need to pay for college on their own. Working full time in ministry does not always provide a living, and part of our call as Christians is to be able to work, contribute to our community, and be responsible with our finances. Being responsible with finances is a spiritual discipline. If you are considering attending college and paying for college, please consider how you will be able to use that degree after you graduate. A degree is only worth what it can help you achieve. A degree is not needed for the title or degree alone.
As a teenager, I often heard preachers speak against education. Preachers would tell teenagers God was coming back, and they did not need an education. In 2014, it is hard to find a job without a Bachelor degree. I cannot imagine finding a job without a high school education. We need to value education, and invest in the Kingdom by contributing our talents and gifts into society. We need education, because it will help us fulfill the mission of the Church. If you are considering entering ministry, think about receiving an education which can go along with your calling. For example, if you want to be a missionary consider going to school and learning more about foreign affairs, or possibly teaching English as a second language. You could always consider going into the medical field, and using your gifts to work in the mission fields. This would give you the opportunity to serve, and share the gospel in a very practical way.
As leaders we need to be thinking about the importance of education and finances. What are your thoughts?
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