I’ve known a number of pastors who became professors. I known none who don’t know this experience articulated by Calvin Miller, in his autobiography, Life is Mostly Edges (#ad).
Between being Pastor Miller and becoming Professor Miller lay a broad chasm. Crossing this wide divide required a running leap I barely managed to make. And once I had cleared the chasm, my new teaching career left me uncertain that the choice I had made was a wise one. Pastors are the heads of congregations. They are in on every piece of gossip and administrative decision that passes through their churches. They are always central in their flocks. They are not always esteemed. In fact, they may at times be despised by a part of their flock. But loved or hated, they are always central.Professors, on the other hand, are fringe people. The big decisions about their workplace are made by people they rarely or never meet. The trustees sit around mahogany tables and decide the courses of their professor’s careers and their lives. They are assigned to teach out of offices they don’t pick. They are mandated to use certain classrooms they never get to choose. They are given everything: their work loads, their class times, their chalk allowances.