I am about a month into the 2005 fall quarter at Fuller Theological Seminary. I am currently taking two courses through the Distance Learning program in hope that this will be the beginning of my studies toward a Master of Divinity degree.
A number of those whom I have told about my academic plans have been puzzled as to why I would be doing this at this time in my life. The common questions have been, “Are you going to be a pastor?" “Do you want to have a church?” “Will you be selling your business?” Not surprisingly, living in the Wine Country of Sonoma, some people have asked, “Does that mean you won’t be able to drink alcohol?” I would say that these people probably don’t know me to well because I quit my “love affair” with drinking almost four years ago. Those closest to me, my family, friends and I hope those whom I work with on a daily basis have seen transformation or change since I reconnected with my faith.
Initially when I was asked questions like these I was uncomfortable. I was not then and I am not now completely convinced of my intentions for pursuing this path. I appreciate the statement Malcolm Muggeridge makes in the introduction of his book A Third Testament, “It often happens that the reason for doing something only emerges clearly after it has been done, conscious intent and all the various practicalities which go therewith being but the tip of an iceberg of unconscious intent. In any case, as has often been pointed out, time itself is a continuum, and not divisible into past, present and future tenses” (1).
A few years ago a close friend gave me a book by Tom Chappell, founder/CEO of the successful company, Tom's of Maine. In his book, Managing Upside Down: The Seven Intentions of Values-Centered Leadership, Chappell tells the story of how he and his wife considered selling their company. Tom even stepped back from his role as CEO and enrolled in Harvard’s School of Theology with the goal of gaining a Master of Divinity degree. Ironically the very thing that Tom thought would lead him away from his involvement in business was the thing which became the catalyst for his reentry into business.
I think at some level, the completion of this academic goal and my hope of anticipated growth as a follower of Christ will provide or lead me to a better understanding of my reasons for beginning this undertaking. On the other hand the more I have heard myself respond to the question about being a pastor with an affirmative yes, the more I can see myself in this sense. I think the implication of all this is that I am uncomfortable with predicting the outcome of my decisions. My experience is that things never happen exactly the way I first plan; it is usually during the process that I begin to refine and grasp the vision.
(1) Reprinted from www.bruderhof.com. Copyright © 2004 by The Bruderhof Foundation, Inc. Used with permission.