And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11 NIV
Interim Preacher: Pastor Will Groben
Will on a missions trip in Bolivia
A year after LeeAnn and I married, I started an MA program at the Tampa extension of Dallas Theological Seminary. I went part-time for four years, while continuing to invest as much time as I could in doing ministry work. Seminary was a great place for learning the Bible, especially since I had never been in a church that taught the Bible with much depth, but it was as a volunteer in church that I got experience in evangelism, small group leadership, mentoring, ministry to children and teenagers, visitation, and spiritual leadership.
A year after completing my MA in Tampa, LeeAnn and I moved to Dallas for two years, so I could study biblical Greek and Hebrew. That was not my original intention, because my ambition was to be an accurate teacher and lay elder in my church. But as I learned more [and grew in my amazement] about the Bible, I grew in my desire to serve as a pastor. I completed the four-year degree, called a ThM [or master’s in theology], and then we went on a seminary trip to Israel for three weeks. LeeAnn and I enjoyed that more than any other vacation, and we learned a lot about the geography and how that drives many of the events in the Bible.
In my last year in Dallas, I received ordination from Northwest Bible Church. While almost all of my lay leader experience has been in churches of 250 to 1800 people, my pastorate was in a small, rural, Pennsylvania church. We were blessed to see God do some amazing things in people, growing them spiritually, changing their lives, expanding their ministries. When we got pregnant, however, we decided it was time to step away to pursue new things.
I believe teaching and leading are related. Just as I seek to teach God’s revelation instead of human wisdom, LeeAnn and I shape our life together to be informed by, and obedient to, the Bible. I believe every decision we make as individuals and as a church organization should be based as much as possible on Scripture. I believe leaders should be honest and transparent, sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and working hard to meet the spiritual needs [not necessarily the desires] of the church.
Since I have two graduate degrees, you might consider me an intellectual pastor, but I assure you I still am a normal fellow. Ok, I say “fellow” where you would say “guy,” but I enjoy sports, cookouts, movies, mystery novels, pets, children, gardening, and lots of other normal things, not just reading books on biblical Greek. And my years in the South have led me to say things like “I reckon” or “y’all,” which I think proves I will never be a true intellectual.
I now am fifty-three, and I live with LeeAnn, our daughter [Sofia], and two cats. Once we settle down wherever God sends us next, we would love to get a dog, a horse, and a camel [ok, LeeAnn is hesitant about the camel].
FIND YOUR FAITH
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 NIV
I feel most alive when I am teaching [when I was younger, it was chasing fly balls]. Teaching from the stage is fun, but I get just as excited about mentoring, coaching, counseling, or teaching in the classroom or small group. The teaching itself is fun for me, but I am thrilled when someone gets excited about what they are learning, especially if they are learning something about God.
When I was fifty [and my wife, LeeAnn, was forty], God gave me a new context for teaching: a daughter! Sofia is now three, and excited to learn about letters and words, numbers and colors, and about God. She loves to explore new places and try new things, and she especially enjoys art, music, reading books together, watching [parentally selected] videos, doing puzzles, riding her balance bike, and playing with her cats. LeeAnn and I have been married seventeen years, not without trials, but also with lasting joy at God’s blessing of bringing us together.
I earned my BA at New College of Florida and my MA in economics at Georgetown. I was in the PhD program, but ran away before writing a dissertation. Georgetown granted me a teaching fellowship [a tremendous opportunity for me], and I enjoyed serving a six month internship with US Senator Connie Mack. I taught economics as a TA at New College and Georgetown, and as an adjunct at MCC [now State College of Florida] and Eckerd College. I also worked for several years in commercial banking.