A day in the life of…a student pastor

Dale Buchanan

Dale Buchanan studies a Bachelor of Ministry at BST

My first full-time job was at a meat-works.  Some of you may cringe at this, as you probably prefer not knowing where your steak comes from.  But for me, it was a job for eight years.  I then had a stint at cotton farming when we lived in St George, Queensland, and then later taking on the job of trade’s assistant in a mechanic shop. In my spare time I would go hunting and shooting wild pigs or kangaroos.

Today, I’m a full-time Bachelor of Ministry student at BST and a part-time student pastor at my church. I’m also husband to Jodie and father of three girls (aged 11, 9 and 4) – you could say that I’m completely outnumbered at home.

A day in my life would usually consist of waking up at 6am to go for a 5km run, or 10km if I’m feeling up for it.  Alan Stanley (BST lecturer) and Jonny Lush (BST Property and Construction Manager) are great running buddies for these early morning runs.

After breakfast, I tend to end up in the library or in lectures. Living on campus has its perks as we are only a short stroll from lecture rooms and the library.  I usually finish up with studies around 5pm and have dinner with my family.

Dinner together is always good because it gives us an opportunity to talk and catch up on the activities of the day.  The kids always have something amusing to share – my four year old never seems to run out of words (she’d win a Miss ‘Chatterbox’ award any day).  After the kids have gone to bed, Jodie and I spend some time talking, praying together or watching TV.

On the weekends at church, I generally help out in the areas of pastoral care, worship leading, preaching and general admin.

This week is Easter school holidays for my kids.  On the Christian calendar, Easter is more than just a holiday or finding chocolate eggs in your backyard, it’s a significant reminder of God’s redeeming love – “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18 NIV).

When I consider this verse and the enormity of Christ’s sacrifice I ask myself, “How much am I sacrificing for others and the Kingdom of God?” and “Could I be giving more?”

I came to Bible college because I wanted to be trained for ministry.  Yet, since coming to college I have asked myself many times, “What could I possibly contribute to the Kingdom of God?”

When I look through the Bible and study some of the main characters, they weren’t all perfect.  You just have to turn to the first few chapters in Genesis and see that through their disobedience, Adam and Eve mucked up their relationship with God.  Further on, there’s Abraham and Sarah, who ran out of patience waiting on God and tried to put God’s promises into place before it was time (Genesis 16).  Then there’s King David, anointed by God and led his nation to great victories, yet David fell into adultery (2 Samuel 11).

In the New Testament we can see that the men Jesus had around him 24/7 still often missed the point of His sermons and teaching.  There is Thomas the Doubter, Peter the Denier, Phillip the Dissatisfied and yet these guys did such great things for the Kingdom of God.  Then there’s Paul, a staunch persecutor of the Early Church, who in a life-changing miraculous encounter with Jesus, turned his life around to follow Christ – even to the point of himself being persecuted.

So while I recognise my own shortcomings, I have comfort in knowing that some of the main characters in the Bible were people who struggled, who weren’t always exceptional and who sometimes failed. It makes me realise how much I need to depend on God.

Now in my final year at Bible college, while I feel better equipped to serve Him in ministry, I know there is so much more I will learn along the way. I find encouragement in the words that God said to a young Jeremiah :

“Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.  Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you” (Jeremiah 1:7-8NIV).