Selection School

September 15, 2009
by John Stuart

Over thirty years ago, I went to Edinburgh, Scotland, to participate in the Church of Scotland's "Selection School". It was a three-day conference where candidates for ministry were selected by the church. The process involved seminars, counselling, Bible tests, and practical exercises in parish ministry. At the end of the school, all the candidates were told whether or not they had been selected.

I remember filling out a form at the school and making a mess of it. I kept scoring out phrases and sentences on my paper. The exercise was about explaining my sense of call. I found it difficult to articulate, because it was more of a feeling than of a definite event in my life. As I struggled to write down the right words, I realized that I was running out of time. Eventually, beneath a multitude of scribbles, I wrote Acts 20:24.

Acts 20:24 – However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. (NIV)

After the test, I felt that I had blown the whole deal. Over lunch, some of the other candidates talked about their answers. As I listened to them express their theological and highly spiritual callings, I felt that I was a failure. I just wanted to pack my bags and go home.

On the third day, we were summoned individually into the dean's office. I expected the worst. Instead, I was told that I had passed the school and could begin the process of becoming a minister. It seems that they were looking for candidates who could make mistakes and rely upon God, rather than those who were trying to be perfect and ignoring Him. I was utterly delighted.

Thirty years and more later, I still make mistakes and rely upon God. The ministry that He has given me depends upon Him. Like Paul, I count my life as nothing. All I seek to do is finish the race and testify to the gospel of Christ's grace.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You call every one of us to ministry and to fulfill Your mission tasks. You don't select us because we are perfect. You don't choose us because we are in control. You call us because of what we can become, and not because of what we have done. Touch our spirits today, and enable us to do Your will. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.

About the author:

John Stuart <traqair@aol.com>
Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

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