When I read Josh’s poll about ministry education it got me thinking about who I am and where I have come from. It got me thinking can I integrate my lessons learned from the past to make me a better student pastor?
Now I have a varied background when it comes to how I got to where I am now working with students from grade 8-young adults (18-25). I started volunteering in ministry as soon as I could, when I was in Jr high I helped out with Sunday school, as I progressed to high school I helped out with junior high students when I moved on to college I began to help out with high school students.
My education is also a bit of a mess if you looked at it on paper. I spent time in Bible school obtaining a Diploma in Christian Studies at which time I decided to take time off of school to work in full time camp ministry. I eventually returned to school to take a Wilderness Leadership certificate. My thinking was if I have more technical experience I would become a better outdoorsman. After returning to camp ministry for a brief period I believed God was calling me on to something different. I worked for 3 years in the death care industry, learning simple lessons from working with people grieving. After this I ended up going to school to become a Paramedic, and right after I finished my practicum, training and licensing as a Paramedic I landed in my current position. Now I am working full time with students but also working on my Masters in Christian studies with an emphasis on Biblical exposition.
Now I am sure if a lot of churches looked at this they would laugh and move along in the pile of resumes that came into them for a position, but where I have come from gives me a lot to stand on.
My Christian studies are used daily as I teach and preach, these skills are closely tied to my job. It is without question in my mind that some type of biblical training whether formal or informal greatly helps one in their ministry.
My time in camp ministry and taking wilderness leadership has given me the unique opportunity to take students into the outdoors and use nature to teach about God. I take students whitewater rafting, hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, my goal is to even do a canoe trip or a multi-day wilderness excursion.
Working in the death care industry helped me understand working with grieving people. Now I am not a gifted counselor but students are going through a lot, and sometimes they are grieving. With having experience in this area I can feel comfortable talking to them. I might not know what they are going through but I can navigate through this area of trouble.
Training as a paramedic is useful. At All-nighters I have dealt with concussions, cuts, breaks, sprains and the list will continue to grow, with my understanding of first aid and medicine I am equipped to hand these injuries and it has given me a lot of credit with parents. I would encourage you if you don’t have any first aid, take a class it will increase your credibility with parents in your church.
It is hard to see for many how my journey has ended up where I am at along the road. But when I look at it, I see areas where I have unique strengths that help me in my ministry. I also see where God has taken me to help patch up weaknesses to make me a better servant.
Please take some time and share where you have been. I think it would be encouraging to hear the stories of how God has tailored each one of us to be the servant we are today.
Kyle Corbin has been serving youth as a volunteer or pastor for over 10 years. He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. You can follow his blog at: kylecorbin.blogspot.comor Twitter: @CorbinKyle.