Driver's Ed and Ministry Training
Driver’s Ed and Ministry Training
Recently my 16 year old son received his learner’s permit. According to the laws in our state, the permit allows him to drive a car with another licensed driver present, presumably to help guide the new driver during their first year behind the wheel. Now that he is ready to learn to drive I have noticed that I have taken a more intentional role in training him when we are in the car together. It struck me that training someone to drive and training someone as a Gospel minister were similar endeavors.
Whenever I am driving and son is with me I see it as an opportunity to intentionally pass on my driving skills and wisdom. Ministry training should involve intentional association with keen individuals whom you choose to be with you so that you can train them. In other words, training for ministry is essentially relational. Jesus chose his twelve Apostles “…to be with him…” (Mark 3:14) Some Puritan pastors would let younger ministers live with them so that they created a context for ministry training.
While driving I ask my son to watch me. Observe my feet and hands, watch my eyes check the mirrors, and my head look both ways before pulling out into an intersection etc.
Paul reminds Timothy, “You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life…” (2 Tim. 3:10) Observing a seasoned minister interact with God’s people, lead meetings, preach and teach is a powerful way to do ministry training. We need to create space for training by having people with us so they can watch us. When we do hospital visit, for example, when possible, we should take a trainee with us.
Listen to Me
Now that my son is a learner, a driving disciple, I have taken to verbalizing my thoughts as I drive. He is with me, he is watching me, and listening to me. “Do you see that car, it’s too close for comfort.” “Look over at that guy, he is drifting in his lane.” “Do you see those break lights?” I am attempting to verbalize my internal thoughts in the process of driving so my son can begin to think in a similar fashion. As we train the people around us for Gospel ministry, we must articulate sound doctrine, pastoral thinking, and the wisdom accumulated through our experience.
Reverse the Process
After some time, I will put my son in the driver’s seat. You can’t learn to drive a car from a book or by watching others, you have to do it yourself. The same is true of ministry in Christ’s church. But here I intend to reverse roles. I will be with him, I will watch him and I will listen to him as he drives. I want to see if he has developed certain helpful patterns, and I want him to articulate to me what he is thinking as he drives and then provide feedback along the way. The same ought to hold true for ministry training. We need to be with those we are training, we need to watch their manner, their habits, their interactions, and we need to listen to what they are saying in various ministry contexts to be sure they have inculcated what we have been imparting to them. Then and only then should we let them drive solo.
As Pastors we need to be training others for ministry in this intentional and relational way. I hope this simple analogy helps to motivate you to train others, demonstrates the necessity of training relationally and provides a paradigm for such training.