Growing up as the son of a pastor, Austin Triplett admits that while he knew the Gospel, he did not always fully understand what Christ had done for him. However, as a recent graduate of the Associate’s of Divinity Degree program at Christian Leaders College, Austin has developed a deeper understanding of the God who loves him beyond compare. This portion of his story tells of the life-changing learning opportunity that Christian Leaders Institute provided him with, as well as the faith lessons he has learned along the way.
Call to Ministry
In 2018, I felt a strong call from God to pursue pastoral ministry. Upon receiving this call, I felt a variety of emotions: joy, excitement, and a sense of purpose – but also, fear of complete inadequacy. How could I expect to pastor people if I didn’t have a college degree? How could I expect to lead when I still have so much to learn? Through prayer and the council of my wife, it became clear that I needed to pursue a theological education. Upon making this decision came the question of cost: can I even afford a degree? My search for a reasonably-priced, online, theological education began. At first my search seemed hopeless, until one day I stumbled upon Christian Leader’s Institute. Could this be the place I find the training needed to pursue the call I believe that God has placed on my life? My wife and I prayerfully decided that this was the right path to take. In December of 2018, I began my journey towards an Associates of Divinity Degree with Christian Leader’s College.
Life-Changing Learning Opportunity
The beginning stages of my degree program were filled with excitement and intrigue as I engaged in training to pursue God’s call on my life. I became captivated by the work of God when going through Dr. Ted Hildebrandt’s Old Testament Literature and Theology class. Also, I grew to appreciate the larger body of Christ when going through Church History with Dr. Feddes. My eyes were opened to so many new possibilities for the expansion of the church in the Marketing Applied – Church Planting class. I felt as if theological education was something I was always missing in my life. Christian Leaders Institute was truly a life-changing learning opportunity for me. I fell in love with school, and the more I loved it, the more I learned. I couldn’t get enough information and I craved growth.
Love for the Lord
I found that the more I learned, the more I loved God. The more I learned, the more I wanted to keep learning. The more I learned, the more I wanted to become a pastor: to pursue God’s call. The world became an inexhaustible well of knowledge that I could drink from daily. All of this kindled a love for God that I never thought possible: a humility that I had always dreamed of, but never was able to attain. God used this life-changing learning opportunity to help me understand His glory. The more I learned, the more I continued to ask: “Oh Lord, what is man that you are mindful of Him?” (Psalm 8). I will always have more to learn, yet He knows all. I will always keep growing, yet he remains the same. Though I continue to change, He is without change. Though I might fail a quiz, He never fails. Christian Leaders College helped me to experience God in new ways every day.
Struggling to Succeed
However, feelings come and go. In July of 2019, I had just begun my Economics class and my schedule seemed to allow no time for school. I was busy preparing to move from India back home to El Paso, Texas, and school seemed less interesting to me. I began to struggle to keep up my pace with school and in struggling to keep up, my love for education seemed to dwindle. After weeks of attempting to work through the assignments for the first economics section, I felt ready to take the quiz. Immediately after seeing the first question, I knew I wasn’t prepared, but I stubbornly continued on. I anxiously submitted my answers to the quiz and prepared myself for the results. I failed the first quiz in economics and received the first failing grade of my college career. Feelings of anger, frustration, and a lack of motivation to continue my degree program consumed me.
For about a week, I couldn’t even think about doing school. Everything was so busy, so where would I find the time? I met with my mentor at the end of that week and he challenged me to work harder at my next quiz. With his encouragement and a fresh wind of motivation, I dove into the second section of economics. Within a week I felt ready to take the next quiz. This time I had been diligent in my note-taking, and I was much more confident. I submitted my answers to the quiz, and with a sigh of relief I saw my grade: 19 out of 20 questions correct! Economics was by far the most difficult course for me, specifically because of the season of life I was in. However, with encouragement from my mentor and a more intentional approach to my education, I was able to finish the class with an A minus.
In every class, I have been so thankful for CLI’s work to apply knowledge to a ministry context. In reflection, I am so grateful for my time at Christian Leader’s Institute, and I look forward to continuing to learn through the Bachelor’s Degree program here. I am grateful for this life-changing learning opportunity and believe that the more I learn, the better pastor I will be. Also, I believe that the work Christian Leader’s Institute is doing to make education affordable and accessible for ministry leaders around the world is something that will transform the church. I look forward to seeing what the Lord continues to do in and through me as I continue my education with CLI!