A lot of people ask me why I a getting a PhD. Am I doing it so I can teach? So I can write? I have thought about that lot over this journey.
Nearly 20 years ago, God first put it in my heart to get a PhD. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in my first year at ORU doing an undergraduate degree in theology. I had no idea I would go to post graduate work. In fact, I didn’t even know how to get to that level of education. My parents had both finished a masters in education in college. But neither of them stayed in education. And I don’t remember going to college being stressed all that often growing up. But that day in my first year at ORU, I heard God speak and ever since I have been on that journey.
In 2000, I graduated with my Bachelors. I also started working full time in ministry so I wasn’t concerned about doing my masters right away. But it soon became clear, I couldn’t get away from it. So in 2002 I started a masters and finished 5 years later. At that point I knew i was ready to start post-graduate work. My professors insprired me with a love for theology and encouraged my gifts. In 2008 I started applying. I loved ORU so much I wanted to come back to be a teacher there. But you can’t teach theology without a terminal degree. If you were to ask me at that point, why I was doing it I would have said, “so I can teach at ORU.” At that time, in my mind, I needed degree to get where I am going. I needed a PhD.
In 2010, God called me to pastor at New Life Center and I put that dream on hold. Something happened during that 5 year break. God has slowly been teaching me that my whole life is a calling. Pastoring has a way of purging your own desires for the sake of God’s dreams for your life. Everything God asks me to do in my life is a calling. Who I marry, how I parent, where I pastor and what degrees I pursue. He told me to be a pastor. It was not my choice. There is no end game. I am not serving in order to become something else. Pastoring is not a stepping stone. It is a calling. I do it for Him and for as long as he needs me to do it.
Five years later, now that I am back pursuit of a PhD, I do it for different reasons. I don’t need a PhD. I am not doing it gain the necessary credentials to be a professor. I am not doing it achieve a level in church ministry. I don’t even care about the title. At this point, I don’t even care if I ever end up at ORU like I had dreamed years ago. I am doing my PhD because I am called to do so. God has an assignment for me, whether I ever “use” this degree or not.
This is the beauty of my journey right now. I believe the work I am doing in my research on the Assemblies of God is valuable in and of itself. It will ultimately be a gift to the body of Christ that God has called me to give. This degree is a calling. I don’t need it, but do need to do it. God has called me. So I write. And to quote Eric Liddell, “When I write, I feel His pleasure.”
7 thoughts on “I don’t need a PhD”
A wonderful reflection that is rather similar to my own journey. I find the work on the PhD to be a part of my discipleship and a service to Christ and His Church. It is not actually a means to an end, but a part of the following I feel called to.
Well said. And I have similar feelings about pastoring and doing this PhD. We can’t live like we are waiting for something else. Right now is the moment where God is speaking and moving. We mustn’t miss it.
funny how the MDiv used to be called a terminal degree… lol
ps. I hope to get one too eventually
I tried to make this comment on your blog but I do not use any of the programs listed. Sooooo!
Learning is a life style. Degrees are one of the methods of measuring the progress.
The late Dave Irwin was one of my profs at AGGS (that’s right, when “Seminary” sounded too much like “Cemetary” – a place where all the Godly men died). He was fabulous. One of his “things” was leaving us with a one or two line thought. On one particular evening he said, “Never stop learning, because terminal education leads to terminal thinking”…
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