A New Name, A Renewed Focus Vocational Formation
Published by Geoff Vandermolen
Director of Vocational Formation, Director of Doctor of Ministry
Joshua was called upon by God to lead Israel into the Promised Land. At the onset of this divinely given task, God spoke to Joshua saying, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terriﬁed; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 NIV).
Reading these words one might be tempted to wonder: How will Joshua do it? Will he simply conjure up the requisite courage from some heretofore-untapped well of internal strength? Is Joshua actually able by some sheer force of internal will to obey God, be courageous in the face of unknown risks, and lead God’s people into an unknown land?
If you have ever read Joshua 1 in a season of personal challenge, you know these questions come easily to mind. However, careful readers of the biblical text will remember that when Joshua stood on the edge of the Promised Land, he had already undergone decades of leadership formation through his relationship with Moses.
Consider the fact that Joshua was there with Moses in the battle against the Amalekites (Ex.17). Joshua went with Moses to meet with God on Mt. Sinai (Ex. 24). Joshua the emerging leader witnessed Moses dealing with the sins of Israel on more than one occasion, including their idolatry with the golden calf. These leadership partners had even battled one another at times over character issues and jealousy (Num. 11). Yet Moses and Joshua were still able to trust one another when the reports from the spies were brought back and required faith and courage.
In short, Moses and Joshua had traveled a long leadership road together. This road formed their leadership, their hearts, and their faith. And this leadership relationship was a reservoir from which Joshua would draw all that he would need for the moments when God spoke the words, “Be strong and courageous!”
Good pastors and leaders possess important knowledge gained from reading and study. However, it is arguably the case that the best leaders to ﬁll CRC pulpits and pastoral roles are those leaders that have tested their learning in the crucible of reﬂective experience. Many of us have borne witness to the painful spiritual carnage of pastors or leaders who have taken up leadership roles while lacking the wisdom, experience, or simple ability to manage their hearts, emotions, and choices.
e Vocational Formation oﬃce of Calvin Seminary is aimed precisely at the deliberate formation of the heart—the character and the leadership of emerging Kingdom leaders. We are resolved to marry top shelf academic learning with the intentional and internal formation of Kingdom leaders. Through the use of tools including contextual learning (internships), peer reﬂection, vocational mentors, psychological testing and assessment, and structured conversation through Formation Groups, we hope to better equip leaders for the task that is ahead. Here at the Vocational Formation oﬃce we welcome your input, your partnership in this work, and also your encouragement. Together we share a passion for ﬂourishing leadership in local churches that are participating in the exciting work of the mission of God in our world.
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