I was having a crisis. Was I going to seminary or was I going to attempt to jump right into youth ministry? This was the summer of 2003. While working at Camp Glisson as a counselor, I had a very “street smart” youth pastor tell me the following:
Whit, you’ve got a couple of options. 1) You can graduate from college and go straight into seminary, studying in tall ivory towers about dead, German theologians. Or 2) you can finish college and get down in the trenches, get your hands dirty, be with the people, and learn valuable lessons that will bring to life all things you will learn in seminary later. —Mark Danzy
For me, it was option 2*. I needed context. I needed to be around people and journey with them, learning what makes them tick and why they are caught in the predicaments they’re in. But the result was two-sided. I also learned what made me tick and why I’m caught in the predicaments I’m in.
9 For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building. —1 Corinthians 3
“Getting our hands dirty”—or in other words living out our faith—is the only way to make a difference and to have a difference made in you. The wilderness of your spiritual formation requires you taking part in that wilderness. You can study all day long about what the wilderness is like, the kind of animals, vegetation, and weather patterns, but in the end you’re going to have to camp out under the stars and observe the beasts of the field.
Get down in the trenches, give yourself some context and background to apply to the things you hear on Sunday mornings or even devotions like this one. Talk to your pastor and make it a priority to involve yourself in the lives of others, knowing full-well that you’ll be involving yourself within your own life, as well.
*The decision I made and the advice I followed fit the path God had for me. If faced with a difficult crossroads, prayerfully consider your options and know that God may be leading you into a time of great exposure and education first. We all have our paths and God blesses the steps we take in His name and for His glory.