William Willimon: Seminary too hard?

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“In calling us into gospel service, God promises us that nothing worse shall happen to us than happened to Jesus. Therefore, we do well to reflect upon the practice of ministry, to work diligently to acquire the skills necessary to be faithful to this high vocation. The virtues required to be a good pastor – wisdom, truth telling, courage, compassion, study – do not come naturally to most of us. So our first duty is to work. Our second duty is to pray daily that God will give us what we need to fulfill the vocation to which God has called us. Work and pray. Labor et Orans. We work under the prayerful conviction that God is able to provide what God demands.

Sometimes seminarians complain that the seminary’s expectations of them are too demanding, that the course is too difficult, or that it is placing academic burdens upon them that they cannot bear. Perhaps they feel that their sincerity and their sense of vocation are enough to sustain them in their ministry. They are wrong.

I remind them that I did not call them into the ministry. I am sorry if they have been misled, but the pastoral ministry is a very difficult way to earn a living, and our Master can be very demanding, despite his reassurance of a light burden and an easy yoke.”

– William Willimon, Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry, p. 24-25

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