A young man recently wrote for some advice on taking time off from school to focus on the Word. Team Leader Overseer Dick Brogden offered a few thoughts on how to manage this season of life.
The young man writes:
Right now I’m stretched a bit thin working full-time, studying full-time year-round, leading a couple small groups, and serving in other ministries as well. I’m also in a 6-month Bible study that focuses on training young adults to individually know the Word to teach the Word and to grow closer to the Lord by “eating the solid food.”
I’m emailing you because I’m feeling drawn to take time off from school and to possibly reduce my hours at work to have enough hours to get by and to spend that time diving into the Word.
What do you think? I want to hear your opinion partially because I heard you say that you require people on your team to have a 4-year degree.
Thanks for asking. My opinion is, stay in school. Here’s why:
1. Unless God knocks us on the head, we should be people who finish what we start.
2. Life and ministry and mission are hard, and we work harder than most anyone on earth—or should. This is a lesson you are learning now. Laborers are people who sweat.
3. This is a good opportunity for you to learn how to balance responsibilities, to manage your time wisely, and to say no to certain things—even good things. You must cut all the fat off, trim your life down to the critical things, focus, discipline, and prioritize. Learning to triage is a vital skill in mission.
Reading the basic components of your email, there are some things you can’t give up. In the line of thinking I’m presenting, those things are: you have to abide in Jesus, go to school, and support yourself. It sounds like you are involved in a couple small groups, other ministries, and a Bible study—unless that Bible study is one of the small groups. Either way, if something has to give, you might cut back on the ministry options (down to one, for example). Which ministry or small group is the most critical to what God is preparing you for? Another good option would be to reduce work hours if you can still pay your bills and not accumulate debt.
4. You are young and have the energy for a push like this. You probably can’t keep up a schedule like this all your life, but you are at an age now where you can push through for a couple years.
5. A degree is always helpful over here—both for credibility and also for the skills and knowledge accrued along the way.
6. It is fantastic that you have a hunger for the Word—this is to be cultivated. The reality is that life does not allow most of us the opportunity to withdraw and do little but Bible study and teaching and preaching. I think the greater lesson in all of this is how you abide in Jesus and His Word in the midst of other responsibilities—not in the absence of other responsibilities.
7. Overall, it is better not to make drastic changes before you make modest adjustments. I would reduce ministry involvement to one key component and reduce work hours to the minimum that results in the income you need to pay bills and avoid debt (and live very simply to help this) before dropping out of school. Dropping out of school is a drastic option and should not be done unless (1) it is untenable financially, emotionally, or spiritually, or (2) you have very, very, very clear direction from the Lord to do so.