As a final project for my Intro to Theological Education course, I had to come up with a set of personal goals that I hope to accomplish during my time at Campbell. Of course, I had goals in mind before I enrolled in Divinity School, but until they’re articulated, they’re really nothing more than vague ideas.
I think the temptation with any journey in life is to focus on the standard goal: if the journey is a degree program, the goal is to graduate; if the journey is a job, the goal is to make it to the next promotion, or retirement, without being fired. While these standard goals are valid, I think all of us would admit we hope to get more out of life than simply making it to the end of the road. Taking the time to set personal goals along the way helps us make the best use of our time and energy; they provide inspiration when the road gets tough and the standard goal starts to seem less attractive.
So, here’s what I came up with:
As I spend time at Campbell preparing for future ministry opportunities, I hope to…
• Continue personal spiritual development and formation.
As I move through my formal theological training, I must continuously strive to deepen my own personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the risen Savior and Eternal God of all creation. Alongside my educational pursuits, I hope to develop a regular habit of devotional Bible study and prayer. I plan to focus on developing a style of living consistent with the spiritual disciplines, including daily meditation, constant prayer, weekly fasting, confession and fellowship. As much as possible, I hope to continue charting my own faith development, beginning with the spiritual formation timeline I created during my first semester at Campbell.
• Strengthen my knowledge of the biblical canon.
Through coursework and independent study, I hope to retain a solid overview of each of the 66 books in the Bible, understanding the subject matter, context, issues of authorship, chronology and basic history related to each book, as well as how each book fits into the total canon and how the broader canon affects the interpretation of each book. I hope to develop the skills necessary to conduct scholarly exegesis of the text for the purposes of preaching, teaching, devotional study and personal exploration. I hope to develop familiarity with quality extra-biblical resources, including commentaries and reputable journals that I may turn to for future research and study as I continue building upon my foundation of biblical knowledge.
• Expose myself to the original languages of the Bible.
I intend to study both Greek and Hebrew while enrolled at Campbell. Through coursework, I hope to gain a basic understanding of these primary original languages of the Bible. Following my studies at Campbell, I hope to retain knowledge of key terminology and translation issues relative to both languages. I hope to develop advanced skills in at least one of the biblical languages that I may continue to build upon, practice and reinforce following the completion of my education at Campbell.
• Explore the history of the Christian faith and understand how it affects the theological doctrine of sectarian groups today.
I have a general knowledge of the varying customs and liturgy associated with different mainline churches today, but very little understanding of the differences in doctrine that serve to separate Christians in the 21st century. I believe understanding these doctrinal differences, how they have developed from interpretation of the biblical canon and how they have affected application of the Christian faith throughout history is important to developing effective ministry that seeks to broaden and unify the body of Christ.
• Improve my preaching skills, with a focus on textual accuracy, cultural relevancy and effective delivery.
Through coursework, internships and practicum experience, I hope to develop the skills necessary to prepare regular sermons that are based on sound biblical truths and speak to the needs of contemporary listeners. I hope to improve my public speaking and delivery skills so that I might preach a sermon “naturally” from the pulpit — as if engaging in conversation with the congregation, as opposed to simply reading a prepared essay.
• Develop a ministry strategy that is flexible, but always missions-oriented.
I hope to develop the interpersonal and logistical skills necessary to practice effective evangelism in a variety of cultural contexts and situations, as well as the skills needed to encourage others to do the same. Regardless of the capacity I find myself serving in after Campbell — vocational missionary, pastor, youth worker, family minister, etc. — I hope to maintain a sense of “mission,” living and working in such a way that the message of Christ’s love and salvation is demonstrated to others, instinctively drawing them into the body of Christ.
• Continue to become more self-aware, for the purposes of improving interpersonal relationships.
• Successfully meet all of the requirements necessary for a Master of Divinity, with languages.
I hope to maintain a minimum GPA of at least 3.25 on a 4.0 scale throughout my enrollment at Campbell, developing an academic portfolio that will allow me to pursue advanced graduate education in the future.
By no means is this list meant to be exhaustive, nor are these goals set in stone. At this point in my journey though, these goals seem to be the big ones. A few other goals in the background include being ordained by a local church, becoming more familiar with the writings of the classic church fathers (and mothers) and understanding how Christian doctrine fits into the emerging culture of a post-modern world. No need to let the list get too long already though.