Theological Education as Divine Formation

Jodi Watson-portraitBy Dr. JoAnn Ford Watson

Theological Education is being formed in the love of Jesus for service in His Kingdom. Jesus is the Great Teacher and Instructor of our souls. Theological education is training in the wisdom, knowledge, and love of God.

Jesus touches our lives and transforms us by His grace through the work of the Holy Spirit. Our Christian calling is to attune ourselves to Jesus and his divine love and grace at work in our lives. It is to learn how to respond to the workings of His Spirit active in our lives of ministry.

The call of God requires disciplined prayer and study that nurtures our growth in our life with Christ.  It is an incarnational life in Christ (John 1:14).  By his love, Jesus is forming us in him. He becomes the center of our souls.  He lives in us, works in us, and guides us in ministry.  The activity of the flowing love of the Holy Spirit works deep within our souls.

Galatians 2:20 states, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (NIV).

Theological education is the process of transformation into Christlikeness in the life of the person called into ministry.  It is training and knowledge in the love of God at the depths of our souls.  Our vocation is to love and serve as Jesus did.  It is learning to be formed in Jesus’ love. It is being willing to position ourselves to allow God’s loving presence and grace to work in us.  Then God enlivens all that we do.  Being transformed by the love of God is the goal of our ministry for him.  We are offering the heart of God to the needs of the world, bringing the grace and love of Jesus where there is poverty, suffering, loneliness, sickness of any kind.  Through us, Jesus radiates his light and love to a needy world.

When we serve others, we are serving Jesus.  We are being Jesus with skin on for others.  Ministry is the way we touch people and love people with the presence of Jesus.  In ministry, Mother Teresa states that we put the love of God into action.

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (NIV).

At Ashland Theological Seminary, students are invited to ask Jesus Christ to be the center of their ministry.  We encourage students to be formed by Christ’s love and filled with the grace and power of the Holy Spirit.  May their ministry reflect the glory of God. Spiritual leadership for service to Christ in the church and world is rooted in Christ’s love.  It is leadership that constantly abandons power in favor of love.

Dr. JoAnn Ford Watson serves as Professor of Theology and Spiritual Formation at

Ashland Theological Seminary; she can be contacted at



  1. Indeed, it is through Christ’s followers that the light and love of Jesus radiates to a broken world, desperate for healing and reconciliation.

  2. Indeed, it is through Christ’s followers that the light and love of Jesus radiate to a broken world, desperate for healing and reconciliation.

  3. Jodi: Your article is very inspiring! Thanks for sharing your affirming thoughts! May God’s blessings continue to be yours!

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