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Advice

DR. MARK RUTLAND

Education With No Regrets

Addressing 4 common reasons why pastors say they should not get advanced degrees

“When Alison and were struggling to get through three degrees for me and two for her, we asked ourselves many times, ‘Is this worth it?’”

graduate schools in as little as two years. One man told me, “If I go on to graduate school, I will be 53 when I finish a master’s degree.” “Yes,” I told him. “But you will be 53 anyway. Why not be 53 with a master’s degree?” 3) I have been out of school too long; I probably can’t do it. The answer is simple. You can! You are an intelligent, gifted servant of God, and you can do it. Furthermore, it will be fun and challenging to your spirit and good for your brain. It will also inspire you and give you new thoughts and strategies for ministry. There is always—as crazy as it seems—the possibility that you may learn something! 4) I’m not sure another degree will advance my career. First, you will learn more than you can imagine. Second, you will meet and be blessed by others on the same journey, fellow travelers whom you would never know apart from the education experience you will share. Third, education may open doors ahead of you of which you are not even vaguely aware today. When Alison and I were struggling to get through three degrees for me and two for her, we asked ourselves many times, “Is this worth it?” We have answered that question, yes, a thousand times—more like millions of times. Absolutely, it was all worth it. Few of the wonderful places we served, the megachurches, two university presidencies and what I am doing and loving right now through NICL, none of those wonderful doors would have opened without all the long, hard and expensive years of higher education. Education is no substitute for anointing. That goes without saying. Still, why not give God a little more to work with? An anointed and educated intellect is a mighty instrument in the hand of God.

DR. MARK RUTLANDis president of the National Institute of Christian Leadership and Global Servants. A New York Times best-selling author, he has more than 30 years of experience in organizational leadership, having served as a university president and senior pastor. 8

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LIFETOUCH

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hen Alison and I were trying to get ourselves through graduate school, we were as poor as church mice. We barely had enough money to take care of our children—I mean barely. Furthermore, we were torturing every penny in a desperate effort to get an infant ministry up and running. Well, not running exactly. More like crawling. We had graduated from college, worked our way through, in fact, paid every dime of it and incurred no debt. In the light of all that, graduate school and doctoral studies seemed crazy. At least, it seemed wasteful and pointless. It wasn’t. I have never regretted one dollar I spent on higher education, even when those dollars were terrifyingly hard to come by. I never tire of urging those in ministry to go on for more education. I have heard all the objections, and I fully understand how hard it can be to trudge on to the next level. For those who decide otherwise, this is no guilt trip. On the other hand, let me give you some things to think about before you dismiss too quickly the idea of further education. I want to address a few of the most common reasons ministers stop their education. 1) This is not a good time for me. There will never be a good time. First, you have young children. Then you have teenagers. Then you have three in college. Then, well, now you think it’s too late (see No. 2). It will be a sacrifice whenever you do it. Do it now. 2) I am too old. I urge the pastors who graduate from my own National Institute of Christian Leadership (NICL) to go for a full degree. When they finish studying with me, they can complete a master’s degree at any of several participating

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