Like Billy Joel, I have a tendency to go to extremes. I have drawn some preliminary conclusions about where I’d like this blog to go, particularly the nature of the writing, post-first-semester of Seminary. But while I have no problem with the concept “fake it ’til you make it”, when it comes to the Christian walk, I want to “keep it real” as well. For Denver residents, that means that I want to be (all together now) authentic.
I just got back from an impromptu visit to my hometown, the same hometown of the 2015 World Series Champion Royals, for Christmas. While he at least begins to skim my blog posts, my tall, handsome, and hard-working brother-in-law asked me the question again.
“So, seriously, do you want to be a preacher?”
Before I had finished my preparatory-inhale, he added, “The short version.”
Re-capping a bit, I need money to live. I was paid money to work at a strip club beginning early last year. I soon was promoted to manager and secretly confessed to a friend that the work was alright, but that I thought I probably would need to hit a seminary if I wanted to get back into heaven. As the fall approached and new kindergarten-related bills arrived, I saw the need for more money. Given that I have a GI Bill at my disposal and that this GI Bill pays out a healthy monthly stipend, I very quickly determined that my schedule could in fact support a masters program and chose a seminary. Finishing a nearly double full-time course load a couple Fridays ago, I was fired the following Monday.
The seminary I am at includes a 4 or 6 semester character formation program that students must enroll in and pass in order to earn their degree. This, I am told, makes it unique in the world of seminaries. Anyhow, the point is, that I am now registered for another full-time semester and about to try my hand at part-time work once again.
Admittedly, however, circumstances as this semester approaches are quite different from those last fall. The word I’m thinking about a lot these days is “transformation”. Whatever other options are supposedly available to accomplish a transformation of a person’s life, the one I’m staring at is called Christianity. I am still in the midst of a by-all-accounts rough transition from Air Force life to civilian life. But I haven’t given up and my haphazard efforts (what we used to call “all thrust, no vector”) have landed me at a training ground for Christian leadership. These days there are degrees in all sorts of areas from counseling, to pastor-ing, but given the general response I’ve received, I would be remiss if I didn’t confess that, yes, pastors-to-be still account for many, many students. A fellow-classmate of mine eloquently summarized his take on seminary-to-be-a-pastor as “really, pastors are just supposed to be Christians”.
Do I want to be a pastor? Do I intend to be a pastor? Let’s see. I ain’t skerred to give speeches, I have a demonstrable inclination to a life of continuous learning, I write well, I have and can play a grand piano, and I have trained-to-be/been a leader (at least in title) for nearly my entire life. But I don’t have a building, am still acquiring a sound theology, and *big surprise coming* could use a refresher course on character.
The strip club seemed inclined to see where my future lay, so they cut ties. Most of you can’t understand why I would get this degree if not to become a preacher. What does everyone know that I don’t?
Here’s my answer. In the voice of my brother-in-law’s wife’s celebrity crush since she first heard of him as a teen, “Or as the good reverend would say, ‘Why we’re on this particular mission, here today, we’ll never know…'” So I don’t know. (Continuing in the same staccato as Harry), but I do know…that I don’t believe in wasting opportunities.
PS – If you are a fan or want to become one, check out his live performance of Come By Me from last summer.