One night while hastily completing homework to meet a looming 11:59 pm deadline, I encountered a fit of frustration mingled with panic unlike any I’d endured before. But before divulging the details of my meltdown, allow me to provide some background: In addition to pursuing my M.Div. through ACU online, I work full-time, I am married, I am the father of two beautiful little girls (ages 2 and 5), and I am actively involved in church, among other activities. Thus, master’s level homework has often stretched me to limits I’ve not known before.
Now, back to the meltdown. So, having made the hour-long commute home from work, and greeted the wife and kids, I was sitting there in my home office. For the next few hours, my fingers rapidly skipped across the computer keyboard, tapping out the remainder of my assignment, my anxious eyes glancing at the clock from time to time, all while the professor’s less than gracious late-work policy bombarded my mind.
And then it happened….
…the fit of frustration mingled with panic unlike any I’d endured before in my academic career.
*cue ominous music*
“WHY IS THERE SO MUCH HOMEWORK, AND HOW IS ANYONE SUPPOSED TO GET ALL OF THIS STUFF DONE ON TIME!”
However, something else also happened. I definitively heard the Holy Spirit speak simple, yet profound words:
The sermon is due on Sunday…
It’s amazing how God speaks ever so calmly amid our storms. There have been times when I thought God was saying this or that, but at that moment, I knew God spoke to me. I not only knew that He spoke, but I immediately knew what He was illustrating to me at that moment. As an aspiring pastor and current preaching minister, God revealed to me that my homework assignments, much like the sermons I preach and will preach in the future, are due when they are due. The sermon is due on Sunday. Ready or not, it’s due. Prepared or not, it’s due. Like it or not, it’s due. Furthermore, the various types of professors I’ve had (along with their grading and late work policies) can be likened to the various church members I may encounter while pastoring – or to the types of individuals, you will meet in whatever field of work your degree brings you to, for that matter. Some people will be reasonable and merciful, and then there will be others who (apparently) serve to strengthen your prayer life and build your character. Some will be more flexible and easier to work with, and others more rigid.
Ministry can be challenging and unfair at times. Ministry leaves us vulnerable to those around us because we pour out our hearts and give of ourselves in hopes that what we offer in word or deed is what is needed, and that it will be received well. So, it occurred to me that if the ever-pressing deadlines of M.Div. homework was causing my heart to faint, how would I handle pastoring, and the myriad of related demands that come with the territory? Much like I decided to attend seminary, I am the one who acknowledged my call to the ministry. I signed up for the course in life, and it is my responsibility to complete my God-given assignments.
At the end of the day, people expect what they expect. All we can do is give the best we have, and we are challenged and called to do just that – give our best. I am convinced that when we give people the best we have, even if at times we fall short of their expectations, God is well pleased, and He makes up for what we lack.
So, what is the takeaway? I believe that we are learning more than course content through our ACU classes. We are building the structure and character necessary to be scrutinized and still stand. We are accumulating the stamina to persevere under pressure. Along the way, God is teaching us proper sensitivity so that we will be sensitive enough to be in touch with our God-given assignment, and the needs of the people we serve, but not over-sensitive to the people’s responses. Otherwise, we may become discouraged and abandon the assignment. Through our ACU studies, we are reminded that:
The sermon is due on Sunday…
Our life’s assignment, our calling, our mission is due and must be fulfilled. May you be blessed in all your God-given pursuits.
About the Author:
Brian Anderson is a Master of Divinity student through Abilene Christian University online. His goal is to pursue full-time ministry as a pastor. Brian is married with two little girls of the beautiful, silly, and curious sort, ages 2 and 5. He and his family currently live in Dallas, TX, where he serves in his local church as a worship team musician and as a Small Group leader. Brian Anderson is also author of the book Asa’s Allegories: Inspiring Lessons of Faith for Mental, Physical, and Spiritual Growth.