Read Ivan Sharp’s story to hear of the many ways in which Christian Leaders Institute and Christian Leaders College both encouraged and prepared him to serve the Lord for the rest of his life.
Come So Far
In June of 2014, I first became aware of Christian Leaders Institute. As I sat in a coffee shop searching online for a Christian University, the Lord pressed in with His call on me to pursue ministry for Him. It was during this search that I found Christian Leaders Institute. At that time, there were no degree programs and no coaching certifications. Christian Leaders College did not exist yet, nor did the online presence of Christian Leaders Alliance at that time. It has all come so far from that point in time.
I began my basic studies right away and went on to complete both the Old and New Testament Survey courses. However, in my earlier studies, the course I really enjoyed was Church History. To understand our Christian Roots was transformational. I especially made note of the period of Constantine when the church gained relief from much persecution, and how this was reflected negatively in the advancement of the church. This helped me to understand that sometimes the tough times are good for us. Tough times can force us to be committed and to live out what we believe.
As I dug deeper, the Lord provided me with an education through CLI. As the Lord was building me up, He was also building up CLI. Over the time that I have been studying, I have also been listening to and remaining obedient to the Lord. He has used me in the coaching and counseling of many individuals since my CLI journey began. This has especially been with those who have experienced broken marriages and difficult family situations. Most recently, I have found that the new coaching certification was quite beneficial to this part of ministry. I continue to work in this area of service.
It was not long after the degree programs were offered that I decided to make this investment in my education. I believe that these credentials will be quite helpful in providing valuable understanding and formal credentials that can bring credibility. I did have a temporary period where I was not able to complete courses due to my employment workload. However, the flexibility of completing courses online has also been a great blessing. Over the years, God has adjusted my employment workload and my studies have been able to ebb and flow accordingly. I have now completed all the requirements of the Associate Degree and I am moving forward on the requirements for my Bachelor’s Degree!
Another blessing has also been that I have found myself telling others about CLI as well. I have been able to encourage others to follow my lead: to complete their own studies with CLI as they prepare for what the Lord has called them to as well. This has been a valuable resource of encouragement and development of others.
I am not sure if I could pick a favorite class from all the ones that I have taken over the past six years. However, I did find the Christian Coaching classes to be quite interesting and valuable to me. I think my favorite epiphany as I took classes was the realization that the Lord was directing my path in the order in which the classes came. This was particularly clear toward the end of my Associate Degree requirements. I had left a core course decision to the end and had to select between Astronomy or Biology. After much consideration I decided to take the Astronomy course.
I found this extremely interesting and realized I would never have ventured into this arena without the course requirement. My final full course was “Old Testament Literature, History and Theology. It was so rewarding and revealing to have taken these two courses back-to-back. To consider what I had just learned about the cosmos as I studied Scripture was an absolute wow-factor for me. I remember my comparison of the content as I considered the idea of the Big Bang Theory and an expanding universe, and then lined it up with scripture. It caused me to be in awe as I read the story of creation in the beginning and saw how consistent it was with the things learned in the astronomy course.
I really enjoyed my recent Christian Coaching studies. I believe these courses as well as my certification and ordination in Coaching will be extremely helpful and impactful to my ministry with others. This has been an area of calling and passion for awhile now. It has been an answer to prayer to have these added to the CLI curriculum. I view the coaching approach to be essential to my practice, and I have begun to take this approach in my mentoring ministry as well. I look forward in anticipation as I watch and am directed in this area by the Lord.
The most challenging task for me has been to stay focused on my studies during parts of my journey. It is not always easy to find the time to keep going, especially when having to break from studies for a bit. Sometimes I have found it a little hard to start up again. However, I believe this is all part of the learning process as well. We need to learn commitment and routines in our continual studies and in our life too.
As I look ahead to what comes next, I realize the large impact that CLI has had on my life, both spiritually and vocationally. The doors that have already begun to open are numerous, and I can envision an enlarging of the territory that I will be responsible for. The Lord has used CLI in such a way that has encouraged and prepared me to serve the Lord. I can see ahead a ministry of helping others both in finding the Lord and helping to encourage others in their own walk and ministry for the Lord. As I begin to take the next steps toward my Bachelor’s Degree, I look forward to the hand of God leading me and His using Christian Leaders Ministries to be in partnership with me and others within the body of Christ. I understand that it takes more than good intentions to properly impact the world around us. We must prepare for the fight ahead, taking on the full amour of God. We must be committed, armed for battle – encouraged in our faith and obedience to the Lord.
I thank the Lord for His touch upon my life, His direction that comes from many places (including the large impact from being a student with CLI) and through the understanding that I do not stand alone. We are all a part of the Body of Christ and together we will be strong. I look forward to the ways that God will use me both in ministry here in Canada and potentially in support of by fellow CLI students around the globe. I continue to pray for Christian Leaders Ministries, its leadership, staff, volunteers, and students. May the blessings of the Lord flow to them and through them all.