“My time at CLI’s Leadership Excellence School has been amazing! I have learned and grown so much, been challenged beyond belief, and encouraged to continue in the calling God has placed on my life” – Kim Ragan
In Need of a Degree
By profession, I am an event planner who works in higher education. My supervisor encouraged me to get a degree during my annual review a couple years ago. Her statement to me was, “you have so much potential here but you need a degree: just get it in anything”. I left her office in a snit. Really, I am at the top level in my profession, but that is not good enough? So, I began looking at all the degree possibilities offered for free at my university. I did not want to pursue any of them. My thought was, “if I have to spend all this time and effort to get a degree, I definitely want it to challenge and encourage me”. Thus, my search turned to the internet and the possible opportunities to get a degree in ministry. That is when I discovered Christian Leaders Institute!
Continue in the Calling
Although Kim was unsure what pursuing a degree would mean for her, she trusted that Christian Leaders Institute was a step forward to continue in the calling God had placed on her life.
I tiptoed into the program – just taking the orientation class and one other course. I am a perpetual student with a love of learning. Also, I find I learn best when I am held accountable by a timeline. However, not too rigorous of a timeline that throws my life out of balance. CLI was perfect for me. After several courses, I decided to send in my transcript and began pursuing my Bachelor of Divinity degree. While I learned so much from all of my classes, some of my favorites include Sermon Construction & Presentation and Missions & Revival.
In order to continue in the calling God had for her, Kim had to step outside of her comfort zone and into unknown territory.
For the past three decades, I have been in a professional capacity that requires me to research and produce various writing pieces. From technical reports, to grant applications, instructional pieces and communications with customers. Additionally, I have done my fair share of presentations. Going into the Sermon Construction & Presentation class, my thought was, “how hard can this be?”; “I’ll be able to whip right through this.” Well, not exactly. Of all the writing I have done, writing a sermon was an entirely different process – one with enormous weight.
Although I am not called to be a pastor, I now have a different perspective on the weight they carry. Not just in being a shepherd, but for the responsibility they have to preach God’s Word accurately. I realized the gravity of what a pastor undertakes every time he or she shares the Word of God to their congregation. The burden and responsibility in preparing and presenting the sermon, in addition to all the responsibilities that come with the calling is somewhat overwhelming. I was taken aback by the enormity of the calling, and had to spend a little time adjusting my expectations. We need to be in serious prayer for our pastors!
A principle that struck me was “don’t preach ‘try harder’ sermons. Preach ‘believe in Jesus’ and ‘do the work of faith by the power of the Spirit’ sermons”. I love this statement. For me, this gave me a “purpose” for every sermon – a signature of sorts to put in every one. Of all the lessons I learned from this class, I did not learn the most important one until almost the end. Bathe everything, and I mean every word, thought and intention in prayer. Can I write a great manuscript with all the right elements and produce a nearly flawless presentation? Most likely, yes. BUT, does it say what God wants it to say? Does it point people to Jesus? Without the Holy Spirit in the sermon – no matter how thoughtfully written or presented – it might very well be wasted. God deserves my very best!
Discipline of Prayer
Kim also learned that to continue in the calling, God was teaching her more about the discipline of prayer.
The Missions and Revival class was another one my favorites. The key lesson I have learned from this course is the need for an intentional and consistent prayer life. Not one that just lifts up a few prayer requests each day so that I can check it off my spiritual “to-do” list, but fervent, on-my-knees, intercessory prayer. For some time, the LORD has impressed upon me, through several different avenues, the need for me to overhaul my prayer life. To develop a life that is centered on prayer and a relentless reliance upon Him.
I have spent a lot of time talking about starting the discipline of prayer and joined many prayer groups on social media to find encouragement. I have created a prayer journal and read a ton of books on prayer theology and strategies. The one thing that I have not done is actually pray fervently. So, what is a girl to do? Pray!
Thank You CLI
I thank God for the opportunity to be a student at Christian Leaders Institute. Also, I thank Him for all the wonderful people who work behind the scenes to make these programs a reality for anyone wishing to enter ministry or deepen their walk with the Lord. As a professional in higher education, I know that it is so much more than professors teaching the classes. It is the administrative staff that manage all the details behind the scenes. It is the volunteers who help make all the pieces come together and the donors who provide funding to make instruction possible. In the case of CLI, it is the prayer warriors who began praying years ago and continue to pray today for the ministry and for those taking the classes worldwide.