The way that God called me to vocational ministry in both the world of academics and pastoral ministry in the local church is a pretty remarkable story. I was raised the son of a southern baptist pastor, prototypical Pastor’s Kid and PK’s are either usually really, really good kids or they’re little devil children. I was probably somewhere in between. For the longest time, I ran from the ministry because I really didn’t want to do anything that my dad was doing. I saw what he went through, however, the Lord really placed a strong call on me at an early age. I was really broken hearted when we had a missions report on a Sunday night. There was a video of a woman who said that she couldn’t believe in God, and it just grabbed my heart. How could someone not believe in God? It was just then that God was stirring my heart to apologetics ministry and the study of the doctrine of theology. I was wanting to study the arguments for God’s existence when I was just in elementary school. When I look back, it was the Lord just working on my heart. It was also just amazing to see that he was already giving me an academic interest.
My parents would tell you that I was a terrible student in high school and that I wasn’t a great student in college. They never in million years would have imagined that I would be an academic dean. However, the Lord has a sense of humor. When I was in classes for other majors at a public university, I was off to the side studying theology and someone told me, “you know, you could go and get a degree in that.” I responded, “they have degrees in theology?” It was an eye-opening moment. As a result, I showed up at seminary. I was pursuing the degree and having the time of my life studying theology. Although, I didn’t know what I was going to do with it or had any idea that I would ever be a professor or in administration at a Baptist college. But God just radically gripped my life and changed it.
Along the way, it really became clear to me that I am not serving students. Let me explain, I serve the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention. So it was my responsibility to pour into these young men and women who would serve in churches across the convention in whatever role and capacity where they would be a blessing to God’s people. Whether we’re talking about men who are called into pastoral ministry or people who were serving in different staff roles in a church. Even just being church members, whatever it is that they were called to do. I had the opportunity to indirectly impact their churches. And that was just just a special thing. It really became important to me somewhere along the way.
In my first few years on faculty at NOBTS, it was important that we integrate the life of the local church and ministry into what is sometimes a stuffy discipline that is systematic theology. And find ways in which we are translating the substance of Christian theology that speaks to the needs of the local church and God’s people. I can’t ever see a time in my life when I am not serving both students in some sense but also serving the local church through pastoral ministry. What a beautiful synthesis those two things can be together when we pursue them in the right way.
My name is Rhyne Putman and this is my called story.