They arrive, freshmen in their first year of Greek. They come with ideas, ideals, concerns over mastering an unknown language, but intrigued with a deeper knowledge of the NewTestament.They have a wide range of learning, backgrounds and experiences in churches, and different walks with God.Yet, they desire to serve Him more fully.
While the first semester moves from unknown to beginning knowledge, the most important learning is appreciation of the incredible richness of meaning in Biblical text. Faces curious, questions, and then the brightening dawn of discovery of something that changes the perspective of text and even more— learning something new about God.
With relationships built comes opportunity to mentor, to share stories, learning, experience.Then in return for established trust, you have an opportunity to shape a life, mend a heart, renew a soul, change a life.You hear of joys, sorrows, successes, mistakes, failures, and watch students change and grow through
those moments shared in class, in of ces, in con dence and in prayer.
You teach with purpose, recognizing the time in the classroom, or informally outside class, may create moments that prepare a student, not just for success in college, but future leadership.
Who knows which student will be a pastor, an evangelist, a chaplain who cares for many through stressful, joyful or grieving situations of life? Who knows which one will, in the future, be used by God to impact thousands in their walk with Him? Only God knows, and through teaching, you shape one moment of the path each student takes in a class.
As seniors they are more seasoned, with deeper knowledge, wider reading, their own initial experiences in preaching, pastoring, praying, and leading in congregations as student pastors. Yet in their last few months, they are still gaining a greater knowledge to minister. You have a few more weeks to challenge minds, reinforce lessons learned, expand their horizons through reading and understanding the Bible. There is reassuring they are ready, recommendations made for that first place in ministry.
As a professor, you celebrate those last moments at graduation, wave farewell, then live in fond anticipation of how God will use their lives to bless others: new congregations or schools
or hospitals.The opportunities and challenges that will increase their experience, allow them to share what they’ve learned, appreciate their gifts and reaform their calling to ministry.
The Division of Religion at Union College is a chrysalis for ministry. It is my privilege to guide and to get out of the way as students develop into ministers who will not simply preach the gospel, but who have experienced it and will continue to experience it.
– Dr. Benjamin Holdsworth has taught religion and theology at Union since 2009.