Tabletalk: How did you make the difficult decision to leave the pastorate and enter the academy as president of Wheaton College?

Philip Graham Ryken: When the time finally came, making the decision was unexpectedly easy. Eventually God’s will became so clear that to do anything else would have been disobedience. The process leading up to the decision was difficult, though, as Lisa and I wrestled with God in prayer and asked for the grace to have only one agenda: to obey God’s calling, whether he called us to stay at Tenth Presbyterian Church or go to Wheaton College. Sharing this decision with the congregation we love was more difficult still — the most painful thing we have ever done.

It is important to say that I did not “leave the pastorate” but continue to exercise a gospel ministry that has the blessing of my denomination. My calling to a ministry of prayer and the Word of God (see Acts 6:4) is for life, and I could never leave it. What has changed is that I no longer serve a local congregation but the wider body of Christ through the work of Christian higher education.

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