My last semester at Baylor years ago included a major dose of Senioritis. I was burned out. I didn’t do my Greek translation week after week and went two months before Dr. Cutter called for my translation in class. I was caught!
But three months after graduation with a B.A., I was starting all over. Seminary’s first year was a lot like that last semester in college. I knew I needed my M. Div. union card, but my devotion was not to making the best grades. Until something happened.
I caught a new vision. Something about academia suddenly took hold of me. I got into the classes I wanted to take and rediscovered how much I loved learning. I could envision spending my life in it … as a professor. Was this a calling?
Between a new marriage, managing a t-shirt shop, and attending seminary, I squeezed the M.Div. into four years. I ratcheted up my studies, raising my GPA to the required level for admission to the doctoral program. During that time, I discerned and sought counsel and decided God was, indeed, calling me to teach.
Along with earning a doctorate in pastoral ministry, I dove into experiencing ministry—pastoral counseling, chaplaincy, and pastoring, sometimes all at the same time. Sooner than I expected, a full-time, adjunct teaching post opened up, and I accepted it as a match to my call from God.
But then life happened.
My calling didn’t continue how I envisioned it. I did teach at a seminary for a few years, but denominational conflict upended that plan. I then taught for 25 years, part/time and adjunctly, in a private Christian college—but not as my primary ministry or in my field of expertise.
I’ve contented myself over the last 15 years with teaching interim pastors. It’s been very rewarding, and it’s been a real fulfillment of my calling, but it only has occupied a few days here and a week there, for about a month of each year.
Then, Jim Spivey called, out of the blue. Dr. Spivey, a founder, and Senior Fellow was the acting director for the D.Min. program at B. H. Carroll Theological Institute. He said something like, “Karl, I’m retiring from Carroll, and you’d be the perfect person to take my place as the Director of the D.Min. program.” What a surprise to me! Talks led to more talks and to an interview with B.H. Carroll President Gene Wilkes.
The position is part-time, so I will pursue it on top of my regular duties in interim ministry. And starting as the new director means I’m starting at the same time as the start-up of a newly revamped program (kudos to the hard work of Dr. Spivey).
Our new D.Min. structure is made possible because the Association of Theological Schools has changed a number of standards. For instance:
1) There is no longer the prerequisite that a D.Min. applicant has to have an M.Div. degree. Many other theological master’s degrees are now accepted;
2) We will now use a “cohort” system, where new students start together each Fall semester and continue together (full-time) for two years. Transferring D.Min. students can join mid-year. After completing two years of seminars, a third-year is devoted to the completing of a ministry project;
3) ATS removed a requirement for a minimum of 3 full-time years of prior ministry experience; and …
4) A requirement for some residential time on campus. B. H. Carroll will continue to maintain high academic standards, but the D.Min. is certainly open to a broader range of applicants.
It’s mind-boggling to think I’m returning to what I consider the roots of my calling—at the age of 62—with God’s redemptive will working out in a most peculiar way.
Maybe it’s the right time for you to ask, “In what way is God still working out His will in my life?” If part of the answer might be continuing to learn, to grow, to practice and to get ready for what new challenges the Lord has in store for you, I hope you’ll consider the D.Min. program at B. H. Carroll Theological Institute.