Just as the marketplace needs educated and trained staff, so does the church. Education and training develop individuals’ knowledge, skills, and abilities. Education and training enhance one’s strengths and modifies the weaknesses. God has birthed gifts and talents in all of His human creations. It is His plan to use them for the building of His church. The Apostle Paul said, “The gifts He gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, and for the building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12).” A pastor must be able to teach (Titus 1:9; 1 Timothy 3:2) and must be spiritually mature (1 Timothy 3:6), which begins with and then grows through education, training, and mentorship.
We serve a God of order (1 Corinthians 1:14-33). Throughout Scripture, everyone who operated in their calling was taught, trained, and mentored. The Bible shows us that, when God has a person who is ready to lead, to commit to full discipleship, and to take on the responsibility for others, that person’s calling is limitless. In the Scriptures, such leaders still had shortcomings and flaws, but despite those limitations, they served God as spiritual leaders. God trained Adam how to till the land (Genesis 3:23). Moses mentored Joshua (Exodus 17:14; Exodus 33:11). Jethro mentored Moses (Exodus 18:17-24). Moses trained chosen men on how to judge the Israelites (Exodus 18:25-26). Jesus trained the disciples (Matthew 10:1; Matthew 11:1; Luke 11:1). Aquila and Priscilla taught Apollos (Acts 18:26).
Great is the desire to serve God and to declare love for all mankind, but if ill-equipped, the act of service may become overwhelming and burdensome. It can become grunt work, instead of a spiritually-rewarding assignment. When people and events do not flow as one envisioned, if not properly educated or trained, one may take offense and stop serving, questioning and resigning from the call. Blanchard and Hodges noted, “Do you know how long it took Jesus to change His disciples’ attitudes and behaviors related to servant leadership? Three years of daily interaction.” Yet, the call to the ministry is typically a call for lifelong learning. Pastors become lifelong learners because their hearts desire knowledge and understanding and the calling requires it – lifelong learning is simply part of the job.
Lifelong learning is not just about learning and understanding the Scriptures. It is about learning how to serve and lead people. Working with people can be gratifying, and other times, disturbing. At times, it would be nice if ministry didn’t entail people, but ministry is the act of serving people. It is the display of God’s outstretched hand to all mankind. Imagine ministry as a full-service hospital. God has everything necessary to heal the needs of His people. In order to provide quality service, education and training are needed. An executive pastor said, “I have seen many pastors (friends) who stepped out to pastor the organism (church), but they are VERY frustrated with the leading of the organization.” He stated that their common response is “I didn’t know it would be this hard to work with church folks!”
Rick Warren stated in The Purpose-Driven Church:
“Today the pastoral ministry is a hundred times more complex than it was just a generation ago. Even in the best circumstances, ministry is incredibly difficult. But there are also many more resources to help you if you avail yourself to them. The key is never stop learning.”