Message from the President
A Message from the President
“The Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go, for Saul is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel” (Acts 9:15).
At Columbia Seminary we know that God still speaks to folks like Ananias and sends them to those God is calling as our new leaders. We also know that we desperately need spiritual leaders in these days. And, thanks be to God, the witness of our students convinces us that God has not left us in this time without leaders.
Consider the original road-to-Damascus conversion (Acts 9:1-19): Saul, that notorious persecutor of Christians, sees a bright light and hears a voice, yet it is not until Ananias comes to him that Saul’s eyes are opened, he is filled with the Holy Spirit, and eventually becomes the leader for Jesus’ disciples, the very people he’d been harassing.
But what if Ananias had not gone to Saul? What if Ananias had decided that it was none of his business to help Saul understand what God was telling him? What if Ananias had let his own fears and concerns about Saul keep him from believing God could use a man such as this as a leader for Christ’s church?
Had Ananias not responded to his own call from God, Saul might have spent the rest of his life stumbling around Damascus, raving about the great light he’d seen on the road and the voice he’d heard. He might never have stepped out to start new churches among Gentiles as well as Jews. Without Ananias to help Paul discern his call, we would not have those New Testament letters which continue to point us to Jesus Christ, the head of the church. Paul was called by God but could not discern that call without the help of Ananias.
God still calls us to be an Ananias, to speak to those who have been called by God for leadership in Christ’s church, to speak to them even before they discern that call for themselves. We cannot dismiss the calling by saying it is none of our business, by being unwilling to take a risk on those God may be calling as our leaders.
I cannot imagine that God has not called leaders for us. What I can imagine is that there are many people waiting for a voice from the outside to give them the courage to believe the inner voice calling them to offer their lives to Christ’s ministry. The church has always depended on folks like Ananias to help our new leaders discern their call, and many seminary students can quickly identify those who have been Ananias in their lives.
The truth is that most of us simply cannot see clearly enough to discern God’s call on our own. We must allow others to consider with us what we cannot consider on our own. Perhaps, then, the leadership crisis in our time is simply our own hesitancy to became an Ananias in someone else’s life.
Is God calling you to help another discern their gifts for leadership? Let us invite those with gifts for ministry into a deeper understanding of vocation, an understanding of life as an offering to God.
May we all be worthy of God’s calling to us.