Help! I am graduating from Bible School. What do I do now?

Posted: May 10, 2015 in Uncategorized

New BeginningsOver the last few months, I have found myself advising some of our amazing Bible school students about leaving college and handling the big question of “What do I do with my life next?” It is no small decision and one that I had to grapple with over twenty years ago. I had no ‘Christian job offer,’ no potential in the pipe, no plan and no last minute prophecy. I packed up my college room and went home, straight back on to the overhead projector from whence I’d come three years earlier! Square one. Here is a brief summary of some of these recent discussions, with particular reference to the calling and ministry of the Apostle Paul.

  1. AT THE END OF THE ROAD… You may well be called to ‘Rome’ (Acts 23:11) but in most cases it will be via ‘Straight Street’ (Acts 9:11) first. Forsake the notion that the next move must be accompanied by ‘you have reached your destination!’ Some of those dreams and visions could be decades away from fulfillment and, relax, that’s perfectly ok with God. It doesn’t mean that you’ll never see your ‘Rome.’
  2. BE A BRICK. Every ‘sent one’ needs an Antioch (Acts 13:1-2) – a fabulous local church. Paul was a hard working local leader and Antioch was not just his base; he was part of the brickwork! It was through serving locally that the Holy Spirit ensured he found both the right task and the right time: both are crucially important in order to be in the centre of God’s will, not our own. Look at the titles of the New Testament books: God is big on speaking to churches, less so to individuals. If you don’t take root you can’t bear fruit.
  3. PAY FOR GUIDANCE. No, I don’t mean rent-a-prophet. Notice the double mention of fasting and prayer as Paul and Barnabas are launched out (Acts 13:2-3). Prayer ensures you find your true calling in Christ, not a temporary career in Christianity. Authentic divine guidance is always expensive and arises from prayer-filled fumes. No smoke, no fire; no fire, no light. Lots of Christians with ministry potential have been guided by bushes that weren’t ablaze and ended up with a powerless staff.
  4. PLAN TO DO ‘THIS AND THAT.’ I have never been a fan of the phrase ‘God’s got a plan for me’ – surely that should read in the plural? ‘I know the plans…’ says Jeremiah 29:11. Acts 1:8 is clear that we have to do this AND do that. Galatia, Corinth, Philippi, Thessalonica: Paul had divine work to do in all sorts of places and I can only assume that is true for us today. Arriving in Rome may have been one of Paul’s goals, but there was no ‘big time’ in the kingdom of God. We serve God in the minutes not just the milestones.
  5. KNOW YOUR PLACE. Be real about yourself and about ministry life! You can’t really be team leader until you’ve been on the team for a good season (Acts 12:25). Initially, Barnabas would appear to have been the one in charge and it would be a while before Paul would become team leader, even though he was perceived to be the gifted one on Twitter (Acts 14:12). If called to pastoral or public ministry, sometimes the greatest thing you can be is a terrific Number Two; not temporarily, or strategically, but forever. You’ll only be happy and fulfilled if you’re exactly who God made you to be, and when.
  6. SQUARE ONE CAN BE A WINNER. Here’s a thought that helped me twenty years ago. Don’t be ashamed to simply ‘go home.’ Notice that the apostles’ first port of call was Cyprus (Acts 13:4). Question: Did the Spirit supernaturally lead them there, or was it that Barnabas knew the area well (Acts 4:36)? When you don’t know where to go, go where you know. It worked for me.
  7. BE OBSESSED WITH JESUS. Finally, despite our remarkable God-ordained differences and varying gifts and talents, our callings are ultimately all the same. We are called, in the words of Mark’s Gospel, to be with Him (Mark 3:14). Paul’s clear obsession was the Master not the ministry (Philippians 3:10). If called to Him, He will send us out to preach (Mark 3:14). He can’t send us if He can’t see us, and proximity to God is a human decision. Let history record that we were ‘heaven sent’ rather than we ‘got up and went.’

The Lord be with all our amazing students this summer. Blessed are the feet are those who bring good news!

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