A large part of Christian leadership consists in exposition and application of the Scriptures. For that reason, Christian leaders must become skilled at handling and communicating the Word of God. Christian leadership includes teaching.
Christian leadership also includes more. In addition to teaching and preaching, a Christian leader must model a transformed life. Therefore, everyone who graduates from Central Seminary should be a changed person. Our job is to transform students so that they will become effective spiritual leaders for Christ-exalting, biblical ministry. If we succeed, our graduates will exhibit transformation in at least three ways.
First, we want them to love rightly. "Loving rightly" means loving the right things. It means loving those things with a love that reflects God's own valuation of those things. It means loving those things with the right kind of love. Most of all, loving rightly means loving God with the whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. To fail to love God, or to love something else more than God, or to entertain a rival for the love that God alone deserves, or to love God with unworthy loves, is the essence of idolatry. This is no incidental matter. Indeed, it is the first and greatest commandment. Second, we desire that our graduates judge wisely. Judgment is necessary whenever a choice must be made, and life is full of choices. Obviously, we want our graduates to be able to judge between good and bad, but we also want them to be able to judge between good and better, and even between better and best.
On one occasion, the apostle Paul told the Philippians how he was praying for them. His request, he said, was that "your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all judgment; that ye may approve the things that are excellent." For Paul, it was not enough that the Philippians were avoiding things that were obviously bad. He wanted them to be able to choose the things that really mattered, the things that would make a difference. Only thus would they be "sincere and without offence till the day of Christ." We desire the same for the graduates of Central Seminary.
Third, we hope to produce an entire generation of shepherds who will lead gently. We overtly reject the authoritarian and abusive models of leadership that have too often characterized Christian churches. The transformed life of a genuinely Christian leader will exhibit gentleness.
Lack of gentleness has been a problem in every era of church history. The apostle Paul had to remind his readers that "the servant of the Lord must not strive." Peter had to forbid elders to rule as "lords over God's heritage." The model for spiritual leadership was established by Paul when he recalled, "we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: so being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear to us."
Could anyone offer a more tender image than a nursing child at its mother's breast? This is exactly the picture that Paul employs when describing his own leadership. The New Testament prizes gentleness among Christian leaders. If we mean to prepare leaders according to the New Testament pattern, then we must prize it, too.
Any decent seminary is going to teach Greek and Hebrew. Any decent seminary will give instruction in hermeneutics and exegesis. Any decent seminary will ground its students in the biblical system of doctrine. Any decent seminary will train its students to put a sermon together competently. Many seminaries do these things and do them well.
Not many seminaries, however, focus on transforming the character of their students. Of those that do, not all are aiming for the right transformations. At Central Seminary we believe that these three transformations need to take place before someone becomes a competent spiritual leader. We phrase them deliberately as exhortations to every professor, every student, and every alumnus.