On Being a Pastor and a Professor – Part I in a series

Recently, I have been trading emails with Dr. Jim Hamilton who is an Associate Professor of Biblical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY.  During the course of our email exchange, he has been an encouragement to me in many areas:  my ongoing Hebrew studies, discipleship of children, and the topic we are about to discuss in this post.  I have never met him personally(yet) but I am thankful for his encouragement via email and his blog.

In addition to his responsibilities as a professor at Southern Seminary, he is also the senior pastor at Kenwood Baptist Church in Louisville.   With Dr. Hamilton and others serving as professors and pastors, I was intrigued and approached him with a host of questions and he was kind and gracious enough to answer my questions.  I am hoping to interview others on this topic, so stay tuned for more posts!

TL: How do you maintain balance in both roles?

JH: I listen to my wife, and my full time responsibilities are at the Seminary. I am a bi-vocational pastor, so that sets the agenda.

TL: How would you answer the issue that some would say that you are “double-dipping” (taking a salary from both entities)?

JH:I am a full time professor and bi-vocational pastor. My full time pay comes from the Seminary, and the church pays me a part time salary. I don’t see it as double dipping. It’s like I have 1 and 1/2 jobs. It seems to me that anyone with time, opportunity, and the willingness to shoulder the load could do the same.

TL: Does dual responsibility help/compliment or hinder?

JH: I think there is a nice complement between teaching the Bible to future pastors and then serving with other pastors/elders to shepherd a flock.

TL: Do you maintain one office or two?

JH: I have an office at the school, but I mainly work from my basement-study. I don’t keep an office at the church.

TL: How do you manage schedule conflicts?

JH: I am privileged to be part of the Seminary faculty, so that schedule takes precedent. I think of myself as doing the amount of ministry that a lay elder might do who had a secular job, but I also carry the majority of the preaching load. It just happens that my job overlaps nicely with pastoring.

TL: Which came first for you – Pastoring or Professor?

JH:Professor. I didn’t expect to pastor, but the Lord opened doors.

TL: How does the church feel about your seminary responsibilities?

JH: They knew the situation when they hired me, and they hired me as a bi-vocational pastor.

TL: How does the seminary feel about your church responsibilities?

JH: The school wants to see churches thrive, and so my superiors are happy for me to serve as long as the church doesn’t hinder my work at the school.

TL: How did you come to the church that you currently serve?

JH: The church was looking for a pastor, and I was looking for a place to serve.

TL: How did you come to the seminary?

JH: By God’s great mercy!

TL: Is preparation for either responsibility decidedly different or complementary in nature?

JH: I think they’re complementary in that that Bible is central to both. I see my task as understanding the Bible, living out the Bible, and teaching the Bible (cf. Ezra 7:10).

TL: Do you ever receive criticism from either constituency (church or seminary) about spending more time at one and not the other?  Is there a perception of neglect on either the seminary or the church’s part?

JH: Not so far.

Someone once asked me what my dream job would look like and I responded that I would love to pastor but also teach in a seminary if the Lord would allow it.  Thanks again to Dr. Jim Hamilton for taking time to answer these questions!

As always, comments are welcome

Picture credit:  SBTS

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