What I’ve Learned From My Seminary Education – Part 2
By Charles "Kim" Anderson, 5/7/2014
In the Spring newsletter I wrote about discernment as being one of my first and greatest practical educational lessons during my 20 year affiliation at Fuller Northwest. As I prepare to retire at the end of July, I’ve been reflecting on my “real education” at Fuller Northwest. Second to discernment for me is watching to see where God is moving in, through and around me.
During a church internship I completed in 1995, I taught an adult study on discipleship and used a study guide, “Experiencing God,” written by Blackaby and King. In one of the units the study spoke about looking to God, watching, waiting, seeing where God was working in your life and the lives around you. I found this message so compelling that I did just that, I quit my practice of tunnel vision and focusing just on that that was in front of me, I stepped back a bit, and started watching to see where God and the Holy Spirit were “on the prowl.” I was amazed. I found it was like a booklet of connect the dots that I had loved as a child. I was fascinated at that time to see a picture or shape emerge as my pencil danced across the paper going from one dot to another. In this instance, as an adult, I began to see the work God was doing in me and those people around me by connecting the instances where I observed God working in our lives. For some reason, the times when this worked for me was when I was doing something repetitive or dull and mundane. My mind would be wandering, thinking about a particular problem I was encountering at work or pondering something that was bothering me in my personal life. All of the sudden, there was clarity, the dots had connected and I could see where God was working way ahead of me in resolving the issue.
It taught me two great life lessons: 1. Stop trying to make something fit or work when it’s not supposed to. If it’s too hard or takes way too long, God probably isn’t in it. 2. Sometimes it is more productive to step back and stay out of God’s way. Once one observes what God seems to be doing, then jump in and get your hands dirty.
I had someone tell me the other day that I was leaving Fuller NW a great legacy. The “L” word caused me to pause and reflect on what that person meant by legacy, which in a way caused my humble and unpretentious Scandinavian mind to cramp. In the end I was able to connect the dots and realize that the true legacy I’m leaving are the students and alumni that I’ve helped serve who are or will be serving others in the church and community to which God calls them. When I meet with our alumni or students, I’m really proud to hear what they’re doing or what their aspirations are. 99% if them have got it right, whoever wants to be great at their job has to be a servant first. This is such a different concept from my business careers and it has been by far my greatest lesson in my ministry at Fuller. My hope and prayer is that as new students start their time at Fuller NW that the idea of serving those to whom they are called will be inculcated into their very being.
The great baseball Hall of Fame player and manager, Yogi Berra, said, “It’s not over until it’s over.” My call to ministry at Fuller Northwest will soon be over but it isn’t the end of ministry for me, I don’t think. As soon as I take six months off to “detox” from my 44 years of work, a time where I can step back and observe God at work, I’m going to be in a discernment period to see where God can best use me. I’m going to be fascinated to see where God is connecting the dots and preparing me, and the place where I can serve, so that once again I can get my hands dirty.