Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
Doug Sweeney delivered the December 2013 commencement address for the graduating class of Master of Divinity students at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. His words of encouragement and exhortation are excellent. His address consisted of three main points.
First, remember what Dean Tiénou said to you when you began. Not even those in the MDiv, the so-called “masters of divinity,” are meant to master divinity. You’re to be mastered by divinity, conformed to the mind of Christ. You’re to take His yoke upon you, to live your lives and do your work beneath the cross of Christ—under the Word of God.
The second thing I want to say is that the Lord is not finished with your education yet. Don’t let feelings of inadequacy inhibit you from living a long life of Christian discipleship. We’re meant to be life-long learners, as we often say at Trinity, life-long disciples, life-long students of the Lord, his Word and his world.
The third and final thing I want to say to you tonight is that the Lord has given you all you need to minister words of life to those he places in your care. It’s true: you don’t know it all. You have a lot yet to learn. The things of God are very deep. But you can be confident in the Lord, for he has condescended to give us what we need for our salvation and for godly Christian living. Be sure of the main things. You can stake your life upon them. You should ground your ministry in them.
I would strongly suggest/recommend you listen to the whole TEDS Commencement Address (22 minutes). If you prefer, you can also read the message that has been titled, The Word of the Lord Endures Forever.
How encouraging to know that students, future pastors and leaders, coming through TEDS, our EFCA institution, get this sort of instruction and modelling. I thank the Lord for dear friends like Sweeney, who is an exemplary scholar and a committed churchman, who teaches and models what the life and ministry of a pastor-theologian ought to be.
In hearing this message there was much that encouraged and challenged me 25 years after I received my MDiv degree from TEDS. And I concur: my prayer is not that I would master divinity, but rather that I would be mastered by it and progressively be conformed into the image of the Son (Rom. 8:29).
HT: Justin Taylor