Sunday, December 8, 2013

Falling Down the Slippery Slope: Opening a New Chapter in Life

I have officially jumped off the deep end. My close friends would be of a mind that I did that a long time ago. For the past several years I have wanted to enhance my pastoral care skills. I have had an interest in crisis ministry and related disciplines for over 20 years now. But I am seeing more everyday that my skill set needs to be expanded in that area.  How would I go about securing  in depth training? I was repulsed by the idea of going back to school. Nobody goes back to school at age 51!  Little did I know that hanging out with the wrong people was about was about to alleviate that repulsion.

Last fall I started having some casual dialogue with longtime friends and educators at Lubbock Christian University regarding online graduate level degree programs.  Having those kinds of conversations is never a good idea. Hanging out with educators period is never a good idea. I quickly fell down the proverbial slippery slope and applied for admission for the Master's Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.  Even at that point I still had a footing. The slope was slippery, but I was hanging on for dear life.

Of course LCU assigned a program director to me who pulled me even further down the slope. Annie is both competent and encouraging. She persuaded me to continue in my downward spiral without ever coming across like a used car sales representative.  Her professional competency took me even further down the slope.

I received my official acceptance notification just prior to Thanksgiving.  As I ordered textbooks for the first course, I realized I had reached reached the bottom of the slippery slope. I will be reading and composing research papers for the first time since 2003. I am really going back to school.

In all seriousness, I am reminded that my own unique story is driving me toward educational pursuits at age 51. There is a need for qualified professionals to provide counseling services for ministers and their families. I have seen too many colleagues struggle personally over the years with no one to turn to that actually grasps the challenges of their calling.  Furthermore the events of this year in my role as a law enforcement chaplain taught me one thing. The needs of police officers, firefighters, and medics are very unique. I have a heart to serve them well, but my skill set must be broadened in a substantive way.

I will continue in my present ministry. All of my schoolwork will be done in early morning hours before the work day begins. I have done that before and  I can do it again! The leaders at church have been overwhelmingly supportive.  My close friends that I consulted with prior to jumping off the deep end have been more than encouraging. I do believe that these educational pursuits will enhance every aspect of my ministry. It is an exciting time. The first course begins January 6th. No doubt I will be the old guy in the class, but perhaps my life experience will be of some value to my classmates. Maybe I can warn them about slippery slopes...

1 comment:

Niki said...

I am SO proud of you! :)