Service in the local church renews students as they prepare for full-time ministry, said Jimmy Scroggins in his Sept. 28 chapel address at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Scroggins, lead pastor of the Family Church in West Palm Beach, Florida, two-time graduate of Southern Seminary, and former dean of Boyce College, said students should not get discouraged by where God has placed them, and should serve the church with the time and resources God has given them.
“You may see other people getting opportunities that you’re not getting,” Scroggins said. “You may not be the brightest student in your classes, or because of your work schedule or family life, you may not be able to put as much time into it as others can. You may feel overlooked all the time. You may spend your entire seminary experience wondering if God is ever going to do anything with your pathetic attempt to go into the ministry.”
Preaching from Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000 in Mark 6, Scroggins suggested the miracle was one of the most significant in the entire New Testament apart from the resurrection, and taught the disciples to serve by doing what they could with what they had. Jesus calls seminary students to do the same, he said. Rather than wishing they were doing more, students should trust the Lord’s provision for them and believe Jesus will multiply their efforts.
Many students feel like they can’t do the ministry they want to do during their seminary years, Scroggins said. Perhaps they entered school with big dreams for their preaching opportunities, or thought they would quickly earn leadership positions at their church. Rather than staying discouraged, they should recognize the chances for ministry God has already supplied.
“Everybody in this room ought to be somewhere at some church, trying to find a way to teach the Bible, teach a three-year-old Sunday School class, lead worship somewhere, preach somewhere — don’t just hang out around here, waiting to take in all this [information]. You are somewhere now, and you have to start where you are … If you sit there and wait for the big opportunity to show up, it’s probably never gonna happen.”
After the disciples were worn out from the preaching ministry Jesus had commissioned them for, he took them by boat to an isolated place where they could rest. But when the crowd followed Jesus and his cohort, Jesus had compassion on the people and enlisted the disciples to help feed them. Similarly, many ministers will find themselves in such situations, Scroggins said, and should respond with compassion.
“If you’re gonna be in Christian ministry, there are going to be many, many, many days and weeks and years where you are physically and emotionally exhausted,” Scroggins said. “Jesus is going to look at you and say, ‘Because of these people, because they are like sheep without a shepherd, you’re going to have to get out of the boat and you’re going to have to work another day.’ That’s the way ministry is.
“At Southern Seminary and Boyce College, you better not get so intellectually sophisticated that you cannot feel anything in your guts when you look at the lostness all around you.”
Scroggins showed how Mark’s narrative evokes rich Old Testament imagery of God caring for his people — from Moses feeding his people in the wilderness to the divine shepherd in Psalm 23 who “makes me lie down in green pastures.” Jesus will care for his people, and multiply the efforts of ministers of the gospel.
“We’re not the ones who can multiply the bread,” Scroggins said. “We’re the beggars who found the bread.”
Audio and video of Scroggins’ chapel message are available here.