The Wisdom of Experience: Pastoral Care at Moore College

“I encourage you to follow the example of Paul and continue to share, not just the gospel but your very life with the church. Love, your brother…”

“May you continue to rely on your heavenly Father in the next season. I know College has been full of ups and downs and big milestones in life – may God’s faithfulness to you now be a memory to file away and take out to look at again when inevitable hardships arise. For Jesus’ glory…”

These are snippets of the parting words in a card given to me by the faculty member and female chaplain in charge of my final year chaplaincy group at Moore Theological College. These words have stuck with me, and in God’s kindness have proven true and helpful.

In fact, this is one of the things I truly cherished about my time studying at College – the intentionality of learning from all of life, not just the academic aspects. From the first semester of my study, it became increasingly obvious that I was learning to think theologically as much from my interactions outside of the formal classroom setting through incidental conversations and relationship building, as within the classroom.  Even more, the godly example imbued by chaplains and faculty were formative for me, as I saw modelled before me what it looked like to exercise leadership in the service of Christ – with humility, gentleness, and forbearance.

It was formative for me, hearing the wisdom of my female chaplains over the four years

The feedback I received on how my preaching was heard by them and might be heard by other women, talking through models of ministry and how men and women ought to work together to glorify Christ, the quiet words of comfort when I was struggling, and the words of rebuke when I needed to be nudged in the right direction. You might say they were like mothers to me, guiding and developing me in the ways of the Lord. The same can be said of the four faculty members who led my chaplaincy groups. I saw modelled what it looked like to steward the gifts that we are given in service of the Lord, to walk with humility and not laud any skill or ability over others, to apply the riches of Scripture in every aspect of life, and the numerous ways in which prayer and Bible reading really are the lifeblood of perseverance in the Christian life.

Why do I share this with you? In our contemporary culture, wisdom and experience can sometimes be overlooked. And yet, the Scriptures speak a lot about learning from the experience of older Christian men and women who have trusted in the Lord in the ebbs and flows of a messy life marred by sin. There is an odd beauty to sitting at the feet of an older man or woman, with bated breath, as they recount from their life experience the ways in which they walked through difficult situations that provide for us a model of character and conviction as we walk through our own struggles. There is a calmness that comes with contentment in the Lord and an acknowledgement that only the Lord has the power to effect real, impactful change in any circumstance – a calmness that of course comes from the consistent pattern of God’s faithfulness in Scripture, but also one that is reinforced by hindsight, as God’s faithfulness is seen in the nitty-gritty of a life well lived in him. As Proverbs 16:31 reflects:

Gray hair is a crown of splendor;
it is attained in the way of righteousness.

I take it that the Scriptures speak about such wisdom forged in the fear of the Lord and marked on the calloused hands of the follower of Christ persevering in these final days because they are an important part of living under the Lordship of Christ. If that is true for all Christian people, how much more is it an important aspect in formation, for those who have taken time to engage in theological education to equip themselves to serve our Lord in a leadership capacity. And if so, how valuable is the relationship between faculty, chaplain and student.

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