Luke and Sarah both recently made the move from secular work, to full time Bible teaching ministry. We asked them to reflect on how, a few months in, their experience of full time Bible teaching ministry compares with their initial expectations.
Luke came to London as a new graduate. He worked as a management consultant for six years. During that time he was involved in workplace ministry, as well as leading 6pm RML. 18 months ago, he joined the St Helen's associate scheme.
I can think of two main ways my expectations of full time Bible teaching ministry were out of line with reality.
I thought full time Bible teaching ministry, would be quite unlike anything I’d ever done before. Actually full time Bible teaching ministry is very like what we do week-on-week at RML and at home/on the tube etc.—reading our Bibles, thinking about what God says and praying. There’s just lots more of it! There’s no special method you get inducted into – it’s simply listening to and speaking to God, by yourself and with others.
I thought, I would stop being a student and become a teacher. In reality, yes I do more teaching (I have the joy of more one-to-ones and get to do the odd sermon), but actually I’ve spent most of the last two years learning! If you want to learn something deeply, start teaching others. And there’s nothing more exciting than learning more deeply about God and his plan for the universe!
After graduating, Sarah worked for a few years as a primary school teacher in Cambridge. During that time she was very involved with her church's student ministry. She moved to London last September, to join the St Helen's associate scheme.
Over the years I was working as a teacher, several different people had been encouraging me to consider the possibility of exploring full time Bible teaching. When I finally decided to go for it, I think I therefore thought I might be ‘suitable’, based on what others had been recognising in me. But I hadn’t realised just how much I’d enjoy it until I started. Looking back, this probably should have been less of a surprise to me, as I’d already been enjoying co-leading a Bible study group and meeting up with students to look at the Bible!
What was less of a surprise to me was that it would be hard work. I’d already had a taster from preparing Bible studies that spending time really trying to understand and apply God’s word takes time and effort. I also knew that my sinfulness would still be there and wouldn’t magically be lessened by taking on this full time Bible teaching role. But even though it is hard work, I’ve been pleasantly surprised in so many ways. I often have moments where I think ‘pinch me; this is what I’m meant to be doing!’ I hadn’t expected to feel how much of a privilege it is to be able to spend all my time doing this and to be single minded about it.