What I Wish I'd Learned in School

I will forever be grateful for the fine teaching I've received at numerous colleges over the years, and the tremendous ministry training I enjoyed at The Salvation Army's School for Officers' Training (graduating in 1980 with other "Proclaimers of Salvation").

However, I've had ample cause in recent months and years to lament the things I wish I had learned in school and seminary lo, those many years ago. Here's a short list:

1. Accountability (back in the day, no one ever talked about this...except in financial terms. Coulda used it long before I had my first accountability partner, Mike Q. Erre, sometime in the mid-90s).

2. Self-care. Though some are tired of hearing about pastoral self-care, I wish I could have been helped thirty years ago (as I have in recent years) to discover the things that will keep my soul from shriveling and my family from suffering. And (as too many have discovered) my ministry from shipwreck.

3. Discipleship and spiritual direction. It probably has more to do with the tradition in which I trained, but if I could do it all over again, I'd have liked some exposure to ways to disciple a person, one-on-one, and the art of spiritual direction (giving and receiving).

4. Safety. Much of it has to do with changes around us, but still, it might have been good in school to have heard something about wise child safety measures in children's ministry....and similar things.

5. Boundaries. Not only in self-care areas, but my ministry training back then didn't equip me with the helpful boundaries I've picked up along the way (not sure from where, off the top of my head). Things like never meeting privately with a woman, not being alone in a car with a woman, etc.

6. Biblical peacemaking. Preventing and working through conflict in biblical ways. I think I was so naive as a young pastor, I sincerely thought I could get along with everyone. Turns out, not so much. But I can be a peacemaker.

7. Spanish. I had no idea back in the day that a working knowledge of Spanish could be so helpful--and the lack of it so unhelpful. Still hope to learn, but woulda been nice to have HAD to, ya know?

8. Spiritual warfare. Just a clue woulda been good.

9. How to pray. I've prayed, of course. But it's only been in the past ten years that I've become a man of prayer. Can that be taught? To a twenty-something? I think so, though I learned the joy of prayer not through instruction, but example...and desperation.

10. Team ministry. School did a pretty good job of teaching me how to do ministry. Not so much how to equip others and share it with them.

Now, I know, school and seminary are starting points, not the reference point. No school could possibly teach a twenty-something all they can learn by the time they're fifty-something. So this is NOT AT ALL a criticism, but a recognition. Chances are, if I were to go back to my curricula and class notes, some of these things were probably touched on. And even if they had been more strongly emphasized, I might not have learned them any better.

At least I see I've learned something over the years: how little I've learned, and how much more I need to.

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