The first question I am often asked when people see my years of experience in physical security is, “Why haven’t you been in ministry.”   My answer is, “How do you define ministry?”  Too often we make the mistake of identifying ministry with those who serve “professionally”, but the fact is that God has called all his people to serve in ministry, where ever God puts them.  I was where God put me and this was only one stage in a life of ministry.

I began my involvement in church ministry at the age of 14 when I first joined the church choir.  This was an opportunity for me to use one of the gifts God had given me to minister in the church.  At this same time, the ministry of life was already evident to those I went to school with.  I grew up in a town where pretty much everyone identified themselves with a church, but I stood out as “the church kid.”  This was not a negative, but simply an acknowledgment by those around me of what the priorities of my life were.

During my college and seminary years I had the opportunity to be involved in a variety of different ministries, including drama ministry (where I did puppets and plays/skits), small group ministry, music ministry (including several tours of the United States, Europe and Venezuela with various college music groups), martial arts ministry (where I earned a 3rd degree brown belt from Karate Plus Ministries[Shotakan Karate and Hakuryu Jujitsu]) and youth ministry.

After graduating seminary I continued my involvement in lay youth ministry regularly teaching and serving as part of a team planning activities.  During this ministry I had the opportunity to be involved in special outreach events such as New Years Eve overnights, a drive through Passion play and a Halloween “Hell Walk” (If you want for explanation of these, especially the last, feel free to contact me).  I also had the opportunity during this time to be a retreat speaker.

In December of 1999 God’s direction for then became clear to me. In the six months leading up to this time, my wife and I had prayed and decided that when Director of Security position at Trinity International University (where I was working at the time) came open in May 2000, I would apply for it. Unexpectedly the Director retired six months early. I submitted my application and on December 28, I interviewed with the VP of Institutional Services. We discussed how we each viewed our work as a ministry and not simply a job. We saw how our roles played into the success of the mission of the university. After a series of events, including the birth of our second child that night, I accepted the position on December 29. I understood that God had prepared me for this position.

I knew that this was the ministry God had given me and I approached it as such. I set out to build a department that would serve the community, to build its reputation in the eyes of the community and to approach it from a Biblical perspective. During those years I had numerous opportunities to deal with students, faculty and staff from a pastoral, teaching and sometimes disciplinary position. The motto of the university was “Forming students to transform the world through Christ.” I understood that the department served the university’s mission by providing a safe environment in which to live, work and learn. It served the university’s mission by ensuring that physical items that served the university’s mission were not damaged or stolen. It served the university’s mission by educating people regarding both the need to approach the world with safety in mind and in setting an example by our behavior. Scripture teaches that we are to be wise as serpents, but innocent as doves as we go into the world. The department worked to educate the community in being aware of the dangers in the world and how to prevent falling victim to them. Scripture also teaches us to submit to the governing authorities, as long as they are not asking you to sin. Through this behavior people see our witness in our action. The department used its opportunities as a way of addressing the need to work within the rules and submit to the governing authorities when in the world. If one cannot submit to such rules in the confines of a Christian community, how will they do so in the world, and if they do not, then how is their witness impacted?

In addition to this ministry, during this time I continued involvement in the worship ministry and adult teaching ministry of my local church.  I also began involvement with the Trinity Speakers Bureau during this time, filling pulpits and speaking at camp meeting as the opportunities arose.   In addition, I began my involvement as the Chaplain for a local Boy Scout troop, leading in prayer at various activities and leading a Sunday morning worship service at weekend camp outs.  Through all of this, I have felt re-affirmed in my call to professional ministry by both friends and family.

After many years as the Director of Campus Safety & Security and accomplishing many of the goals that I had set out I began to feel a tug on my life for change. After much consideration, debate, prayer and advice, my wife and I decided it was time to begin looking at moving on.

In 2009, as result of the economic conditions in the country, I was laid-off from my position with Trinity International University.  God has now closed that door on my life and I anxiously await the opening of the next door in ministry.

In the time since, I have continued my teaching ministry at my local church, providing pulpit supply to churches and my Chaplaincy ministry with the Boy Scouts.  Most recently, I have begun involvement in a ministry of our local church speaking and leading worship for the Sunday morning chapel service at the neighboring hospital.

During all of this time, God has allowed me to have mentoring relationships with many people, both those who served directly under me and those I have worked along side. Many of these have gone on to serve in ministry themselves. For others, I was one of the first real contacts they had with an openly evangelical Christian.

So I come back to the question, “Why haven’t you been in ministry?” The answer is I have been in ministry. I have been in the very ministry in which God called me to serve. I believe that this time has served me greatly in growth. I am more confident in who I am. I am more certain of what I believe. I have gained indispensable experience in administration, leadership, confrontation, compassion and public speaking. Seminary gave me the knowledge to serve. These years have given me the experience.

Download Philosophy of Ministry – Brian Olson

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