Pastoring & Law School

After finishing law school, my oldest son made this observation . . . .

“Everyone would benefit from a law school education.  Even if they never practice law, or never become a practicing attorney as a full-time job, it is so profitable.  It not only helps you develop your mental reasoning skills, but it also gives you an understanding about how things work in life.”

Many would argue that we don’t need more lawyers, or that their children are already adept at the needed skills without such a formal and expensive educational process. Notably, 15% of incoming law-school school students have no plans to practice law.  They do it for various reasons — sometimes to advance a career in a totally different field.

Let me suggest that such an education would benefit ministry leaders and pastors — not for the reason that some might anticipate. Yes, there are some pastors who would benefit merely by avoiding some sticky legal situations. 

Yes, other formal and informal education avenues potentially offer the same and/or different benefits — a degree or classes in business, medicine, criminology, sociology, communication, counseling, or law enforcement. They all bring something to the table for those who spend their lives in ministry or pastoring.

Nevertheless, I would still advocate additional study or education in a field that develops reasoning or logical skills for those going into ministry. This type of educational experience would benefit them as speakers, preachers, and teachers in several ways . . .

  • It is invaluable to follow the flow and argument of a passage of Scripture.
  • It makes one more adept at speaking on one’s feet.
  • It helps discern fallacious and specious arguments.
  • It offers the potential of developing one’s skills in logic and reasoning.

At times, I am taken back when I hear the reasoning of some in ministry.  You have thought what I have thought . . . . “What kind of reasoning is that?”  “They really made that argument?”  “No, I didn’t hear what I just heard, did I?” “With that kind of logic, you could excuse Lot or Samson!”

Often, pastors find themselves where they are because they think the way we do.  As Alistair Begg stated. . . 

“It is obvious from the text that leadership is the absolute priority in seeking to establish each of these things. Because, if the leadership is wrong, then everything else will be wrong with it. . . . Most problems—most unsolved problems—in a local church can be traced to defective leadership—can be traced to defective leadership, almost without exception. . . . . I am aware of churches in our immediate environment here that are completely bedeviled by all kinds of stuff. And ultimately, it may be traced to failure at the level of pastoral leadership. — Alistair Begg

Here is one of several types of such dreadful logic — maybe damaging logic.  It is called the argument of the excluded middle.  One frames a position as either-or.  There is a lot of middle ground, but attention is easily diverted away by suggesting only two possibilities.

You might hear someone respond, “It is not either-or” /  “It is not all or nothing.”   When you hear that response, you know that someone picked up on the false reasoning or argument.

. . . . .

Have you heard these . . . . 

√ “There are no perfect churches.”  — The choices are not either-or, perfect-or-imperfect.  No one believes that there is a perfect church, just a credible one!  There is a lot of room in the middle between perfect and terrible. 

or

√  Loving God is #1, and my wife and family are #2 — Is it either-or? Can loving wife and family also be part of loving God?  There is a lot of room in the middle for both.

or

“If you love the Lord, you will be here for tonight’s service/support and give towards / be here for our special meetings this week”  — The is a lot of room in the middle.  Loving the Lord is not defined as either-or!

or 

√  “Coming to church isn’t about you.  It’s about Him!” — Can it be about both, or is the church not a place for fellowship and encouragement!  There is a lot of room in the middle for both — worshipping the Lord  AND helping, burden-bearing, encouraging, valuing, supporting, assuring, edifying.  That is why there are two great commandments. [1]

. . . . 

Sometimes it is a failure of logic. 

Sometimes it is excusing failure in ministry! [2]

 



  1. The second and fourth “√” may be the most odious because they excuse caring for others!  It reminds me of “Corban ” — Mark 7 — a cloak to cover a lack of compassion, care, and even the commandment of God.
  2.  A current example

 

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