Wednesday, July 27, 2022

"Are You a Pastor?"

I can't tell you how many times I've been asked that question. I think people assume I must be (or must have been) the pastor of a local church because of my career as a New Testament teacher. I have always answered that question with a "No." I might have to rethink that.

I have been a professor for some 45 years now, but my general life has been marked, I think, by a pastoral bent. In teaching, the two things seem to come together. The best teachers I had in college, in seminary, and even in my doctoral studies saw themselves as pastors whether they were ordained or not. They "pastored" the young people that passed through their lecture halls. It was understood back then that a college or seminary professor would do that. The gulf between the academic and the pastoral didn't seem to be as large in those days as it is today. So in a sense, I believe myself to have been a pastor/shepherd to my students as I sought to guide them in their service to God. 

When I was taking Greek at Biola College (now University), I met Dr. Harry Sturz for the first time. He taught me many of the principles and techniques that I have used in my own career. His instruction has never left me. It has guided me all these years in my classroom teaching as well as in my writing. Most importantly, his passion to study the Scriptures has stayed with me throughout my ministry. When, in 1976, he hired me to teach Greek at Biola, I determined to follow his own example by modelling for others what he had so faithfully modeled for me. 

I am grateful to Harry Sturz (and others) for "pastoring" me (as good mentors always do) and for teaching me diligence in the study of God's word. The standards they set before me, and the self-discipline they required of me, have shaped my life and ministry for more than 4 decades. 

Ideally, wisdom should be passed down from parent to child, from grandparent to grandchild, and from teacher to pupil. It should be passed down as the older generation shares their experience in walking with God with the younger generation. The Bible is filled with an enormous amount of exhortation for Christians to become mentors to others. I urge you to consider taking on this role as your own. And, as you do this, may your walk with Christ continue to deepen, and may you be used to shepherd the sheep he has placed under your care, always pointing them to the Good Shepherd.