The transition from the pastorate to full-time academics has been interesting. From the purely technical side of things, I have had to learn how to speak and write to a different audience. Where before I could make grand sweeping claims (that were true but I had not proven definitively), now I must be much more modest with my conclusions. In a sermon I could assume most people held at least the some of the same basic beliefs; when writing now I am more cognizant that I can take nothing for granted. It has been fun to make this transition. I have been challenged. I like my new milieu, yet there are hard parts to it as well.
I think the thing I miss most about being in the full-time pastorate is the people. I love walking with God's people through the good and the bad, the mundane and the spectacular. I miss regularly hugging people as they come up for communion. I miss the opportunities to preach and teach. I miss early morning coffee with men's Bible studies and late evening meetings with the leadership of the church. I miss fulfilling that part of the call that the Lord has laid on me.
In all of that, though, I know that I am fulfilling another part of my call. I know that when I was in full-time ministry, I was unable to focus my research and study like I can now. I know that being here has given me a great appreciation for the nuances of individual theologians. I know that being here has helped me realize just how much I love the academic life. Studying these last few months has fulfilled part of my call that I missed while in full-time ministry.
So, there is a tension in my life. This tension has existed since leaving college. I love academics. I also love the church and pastoral ministry. Right now, I am fully immersed in academia. I read and write 8-10 hours/day. I do very little "extra" with our church outside of Sunday morning service. I could very easily look around and think an entire part of who I am is being neglected, and to some degree it is. However, the funny thing is, the Lord regularly opens the door for pastoral conversations. It may not be the context of actually being someone's pastor, but the Lord has given me relationships. Relationships where I can exercise that gift. Granted not to the extent that I did before, but still just enough to remind me, this is part of my calling too.
I love what I am doing now. I love what I was doing in Franklin just last August. I am excited about how the Lord is going to use both those experiences in the future. He is using my time in Franklin to help be a better student in Edinburgh. He will use this time in Edinburgh to help with whatever the future holds. In that I can have hope.