In May 2017, I will begin a Doctor of Ministry Program in Congregational Leadership and Mission at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.
This program is designed for pastors in congregational settings and is a part-time educational program utilizing on-line cohort groups and two one-week intensive class times in January and July. A class project is followed the one week intensive.
I will design a research project in my third and fourth year of the program.
Here is the link to the program’s website.
My hopes and expectations for the Doctor of Ministry Program:
About Steven Cauley
I enjoy serving as a parish pastor. I feel a deep sense of call to my vocation, and I really can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s not that I can’t find other work or things to do with my time. In fact, in earlier chapters of my life, I tried working in other occupations. At that point, I wholeheartedly explored a business-related occupation that I believe was a call from God. I tried for several years but never found myself to be happy. I discovered my motivation was not making money. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed having a job that allowed me to afford a few luxuries in life, but I was not happy. Simply put – I was lonely.
I began to wrestle with this call that I felt for a long time but was not sure how to address my feelings. Was I being called to be a pastor? Really? Surely not me. And yet, I could not shake this feeling of being called to a life of service for Christ. God could use anyone but me. At that point in my life, I was not that religious. I scrapped by in all my Theology classes at Texas Lutheran. Theology had little merit for a person who wanted to get his MBA and make money.
It took me four years after graduating from college to come to grips with my sense of call. It was a profoundly moving moment in life. I was not sure I would be a good pastor, nor did I think I had the ‘good boy’ behavior that I observed from other people who would go on to seminary. I did not know much about the life of a pastor, and yet I could not turn my back on this feeling of wanting to explore what this meant. I wrestled with what was happening inside of me with my pastor and close friends, many of whom, at the time were in seminary.
Would I be shamed by my friends who did not understand my sense of call? Would my desire to go to seminary and study to be a pastor ruin my social life? These questions were answered by visiting Luther Seminary and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and meeting people who, like me, wrestled with their call to serve.
Discernment is not an easy process for anyone. Over the course of my life, I have become more aware of how I make decisions, the role of prayer and the invitation of submission to the will of God through the Holy Spirit. For me, this is inner work. I have become aware of the presence of God through my daily practice of contemplative prayer and my practice of mindfulness.
I did not have this training available to me when I discerned my call to ministry. My prayer life was developing, but it was not yet mature. I recall knowing that God was calling me into a deeper intellectual understanding of my faith. Fulfilling that need is what ultimately lead me to enroll in seminary in the fall of 2002, as I matriculated to the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.
I resigned from my position at Citibank, after having been offered a promotion to corporate trainer. It was difficult for me to walk away from a job function that I would have enjoyed, and yet I knew that I was not necessarily motivated by the prospect of earning more money. I was driven by my faith and wanted to explore more, gain more knowledge. I wanted to continue walking with Jesus. It was a walk that I started earlier in my life, and I knew that my walking with Jesus was not yet complete. And so, with a little money in my pocket saved up from my work at the bank, I packed up my small apartment and moved to Chicago, trusting that the Lord was leading me.
I enjoy engaging and finding out more about the practice of ministry and leadership. Learning keeps me current. After nearly eleven years in full-time parish ministry, I discern that it is time for me to re-engage in learning for the sake of learning. Models for church leadership and mission continue to evolve at a rapid pace. It is far too easy to remain complacent and content with the status quo in parish life. It is easy to ‘ride-it-out’ and settles in maintenance mode as a pastor. And yet, maintenance mode is not necessarily a healthy model for the future of the church.
My primary vocation is that of husband and father. My wife, Karen Landahl, and I have been married for almost twelve years. Together we have three daughters – Analise (eight), Linnea (four) and Norah (sixteen months) and an Old English Sheepdog, Wallace. Life is busy!
My Hopes for the Doctor of Ministry Program
I enrolled in the Doctor of Ministry program for the sake of learning and discovering more fully God’s call to be a leader in the parish. After many years of service, while looking towards the future of both my ministry and the needs of the church, I find it time to ‘retool.’ I look to add a variety of new tools to my pastor’s ‘toolbox’ for the sake of the mission of God in and through the ministry in my context.
To that end, I am excited to learn from others how the Holy Spirit is moving in their context, leading others into a deeper commitment to the Missio Dei and the fruits of following the movement of the Spirit. The rich variety and experiences of the cohort group look to be a good learning environment of all of us.
I expect to be challenged to think more critically about the mission of congregational ministry. Specifically, I want a personal challenge to grow in my understanding of my leadership as one who is called to Word and Sacrament ministry. Over the course of my ministry, I continue my journey of self-discovery and definition of understanding my leadership capabilities that have been giving to me through God the Creator as I am equipped by the Holy Spirit. No doubt, following and trusting in the will of God is and can be frightening. I have often questioned why I do what I do as a vocation and have thought about turning my back on my call. I keep coming back to my discernment that I am doing what God has designed me to do.
To that end, I hope to explore my aptitude for congregational leadership and to expand my foundational background as a congregational leader through designing, researching, and implementing my parish project. The aforementioned project is a new area of learning for me, and I am excited and curious about what this project will mean for me and for the ministry to which I am called to serve. Furthermore, I hope that through my project, I would gain greater clarity about an area of ministry in which I am passionate.
The rapid pace of change in the North American church is mind boggling. While no one knows where the Holy Spirit is leading the church, one thing remains – the need for solid, foundational leaders who will continue the mission and ministry of God.
My Personal Goals
As I think about the next period in my ministry, I want to make sure I stay current and ‘fresh’ for ministry. I do not want to get stale, boring, and burnt out from the passion God’s given me as a parish pastor. I enjoy discovering new ways to ‘do’ ministry. I hope through my participating in the Doctor of Ministry program in Congregational Leadership and Mission I would be academically stimulated and challenged through the coursework to stay energetic and engaged in leadership and mission.
To that end, by enrolling in a Doctor of Ministry Program at Luther Seminary, I hope to:
- Increase the numbers and variety of tools in my pastor’s ‘tool box’ for mission and leadership within a congregational setting. All ministry in a congregation hinges on leadership and the capacity to build and manage relationships with other leaders.
- Additionally, I hope to uncover further growth areas with an edge of development in my formation.
- Be challenged by academic readings, provide input in discussions, research new areas for the mission of the Church, seek meaningful and engaging conversation with colleagues who share a similar passion for leadership and mission.
- Keep current on the latest trends in the missiology of the Church while exploring more fully what God is doing through my leadership and through the witness of the congregation to which I am called to serve.
- Create an extensive, corporate project which will help me, my faith community gains a better sense of what God is doing in and through us.
My prayer is that this Doctor of Ministry journey will nourish my soul and stimulate my mind. I am hoping to find colleagues, fellow travelers, who share some of my struggles and passions for the work of ministry. I feel a life-long call to the work of the church—to spread the good news of Jesus Christ in my capacity as a pastoral leader. My hope is that this Doctor of Ministry program, through classwork, study, and peer relationships will offer sustenance as I continue to lead my congregation in healthy and fruitful ways in years to come.