Since I am a professor at a seminary, it is not unusual (indeed, it is very common) for students to come to me for advice about whether they should enter the pastorate or seek to be a professor. While many of these students may have entered seminary with the intention of entering pastoral ministry, they have found themselves falling in love with a deep study of theology and the Bible. And so, they think, perhaps the academic world is right for them.
I confess that I am often torn when students come to me with this question. On the one hand, I want to discourage students from pursuing the Ph.D./professor route. In addition to the fact that Ph.D. work is far more rigorous (and costly) than they think, there is a great need for solid, bible-centered preachers/pastors today. The more solid folks in the pulpit the better.
On the other hand, we also need good seminary professors. Indeed, it is these professors that shape the theology, philosophy, and ethos of the next generation of pastors. Strong seminaries lead to strong churches. Thus, I am always on the look out for the next potential faculty member who can shape these future Christian leaders.
Of course, in the midst of such discussions, it is important to remember that the these two choices—professor or pastor—are not polar opposites. On the contrary, there is tremendous overlap between them (when conceived rightly). So, I thought it might be helpful to sketch out a spectrum of options between the world of pastors and professors. And not surprisingly, I will do this by using a chiastic-style structure (!): [Read more…]