Getting an Education from the Classroom to the Street

I need to be reminded that “the sovereign Lord is my strength” (Habakkuk 3:19). Street.jpeg

God has always wanted his people to depend on him.

Yet, life at street level is often difficult. In fact, it can be very difficult.

Years ago, I went to seminary. I studied and worked hard. I took courses in biblical texts, theology, church history, and practical ministry. I wrote research papers. I read and read. This time of study was very important in my own development as a person and minister. Yet, in no way was my education complete.

As I entered a congregation and began my ministry with these people, my street level education began.

These moments included:

Standing in a dusty West Texas cemetery with a young couple who were about to bury their little baby who was stillborn.

Having coffee with a union steward, asking him about how the economic conditions of our area were impacting families of workers who had been laid off.

Sitting in a living room one week after we had moved to a church, only to have a very wealthy man tell me I had just begun working with a church full of losers.

Getting called to an emergency room to sit with a family whose father/husband had just had a serious car accident while drinking.

Watching from a front row seat what happens to a family when the marriage vows are broken. I had no idea the pain of betrayal was that intense.

Listening in my office to two young foster children as they told me the story of the abuse in their previous foster home and how they were moved to a safe home. Finally, these sweet little children were freed from this hell on earth.

Preaching and teaching message after message and realizing just how difficult this could be.

Entering a funeral home, only to hear a father wail as he grieved the death of his daughter, whom he had accidentally run over with his truck.

Witnessing baptisms and seeing the radical change in some peoples’ lives.

I am still learning. Sometimes this learning takes place because of what I read in a book. Sometimes this learning takes place within the congregation, the community of believers that I work with. Quite often, however, this learning takes place on the street where life unfolds and we are reminded again of our desperate need for God.


What has been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned from being an observer of life?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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8 thoughts on “Getting an Education from the Classroom to the Street

  1. Faith, hope and love are better preached by the ministry of silence and presence than they are by eloquent pulpiteers.

    • Eddy, great point! Nothing can substitute for being fully present with another human being. Thanks so much. (Hope you guys are doing well.)

  2. To stop judging people, as I’m ashamed to admit I did when I was younger. I had a judgmental attitude toward others, even (especially?) in the church because I did not know any better.

    I learned better the hard way – through my own experiences in life.

    There, but for the grace of God, go I. Until we’ve really walked in someone else’s shoes, we really have no idea how difficult life can be for so many.

    We are called to love, not judge.


    • Dee, love your comment. I like especially what you stress regarding other people. You are right, one really has no idea what another is dealing with until she/he has walked in that person’s shoes. Thanks so much.

  3. My formal church development since youth, instructed, quite correctly, that all the brothers and sisters of the congregation (local church), are ministers, and the paid evangelists is also called Minister, along with Preachers (not Pastor or Father). The items listed are life concerns, that the ministers help each other with, relieving the Preacher from this being a duty. Unfortunately, all too often, the problems described cause a rift between the members (ministers) and those with the problems, causing them to leave the congregation, or forsake worship altogether. I have noticed in the last couple of decades, in larger churches at least, acceptance of these problems, more than in my youth.

  4. Thanks Johnny for your comment. Years ago, I think I really did underestimate what people go through in life. What I listed was a snapshot. I could have written much more. Realizing this now has probably given me a lot more compassion for how difficult life is for some people.

  5. To compassionately listen to others and to be an objective viewer, for when we stand back and look with a broader perspective we catch insights we wouldn’t find otherwise which can aid in helping the situation.