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Winter 2002 Rapport: Faculty Words

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Ministering through the gift of teaching

By Gary McGee

Who will I be today?” I frequently wondered as a young Bible college instructor in the late l960s. If well prepared for a lesson (perhaps on the threshold of being “profound”), I might feel like Stanley Horton, one of my former professors. When passionately explaining a point, I briefly fancied myself as William Menzies, another mentor. A profitable interchange of ideas with students over the biblical text would transform me into Donald F. Johns. And if my Greek class went well, it would seem that Anthony Palma had addressed the students that day. But who was I as a teacher?

Ministry or teaching? These terms had seemed antithetical when I enrolled in college. Three vocations enjoyed the limelight: pastor, evangelist, and missionary. But while I soon learned that ministers of music and Christian education also counted, the calling into Christian higher education rested under a cloud of suspicion. In fact, one had to justify this as a valid ministry because it appeared to be so far away from “practical” church work. Several years into teaching, however, I discovered a wonderful book that significantly influenced my thinking: E. Harris Harbison’s The Christian Scholar in the Age of the Reformation. Harbison explained that great teachers of the faith from Augustine to Luther to Calvin viewed scholarship as a ministry and indispensable to the healthy growth of the church.

The twin ministries of teaching and Christian scholarship have never had more importance for the Pentecostal movement than they have today. Issues related to Pentecostal spirituality, the mission of the church in the world, and the discipleship of believers require the attention of teachers with solid academic credentials, disciplined study habits, encouragement from church leaders, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Always concerned that doctrine have practical application, Paul wrote to Timothy, “What you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well” (2 Tim. 2:2 NRSV).

Reading The Christian Scholar marked a joyful event in my pilgrimage. Although I could never be a Luther, or a Horton for that matter, I knew that God had called me to the ministry of teaching—as Paul said, “to prepare God’s people for works of service” (Eph. 4:12 NIV). In time I discovered my own gifts in the classroom. As I begin my 34th year of teaching this semester, I am grateful to the Lord for His calling and blessing, to the wonderful teachers who prepared me, to the thousands of students that I have been privileged to teach at home and abroad, and to the Assemblies of God for the increasing value that it has placed on Christian higher education.

Updated: Thursday, August 7, 2003 3:31 PM


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