Perceptual Ability (John 10:11)


“That is difficult! It’s like origami!”

My daughter nodded as she continued with her studies. I was looking over her shoulder as she was doing a timed practice exam. For the past several weeks, she was preparing to take her DAT (dental admissions test). This examination is mandatory for all students who are seeking to apply to dental school in the United States. While there is significant overlap with the MCAT (medical college admissions test), which I, as a physician, am familiar with, there is a critical difference in the subjects that are covered. The example provided above is part of the section of the DAT known as perceptual ability. As the name suggests, it tests the ability to translate two dimensional images into three dimensions. A dentist needs to be adept at this skill to be able to translate two dimensional radiographic images into three dimensional casts and fillings. 

In this example, one needs to determine how the unfolded two dimensional object in the extreme left sided box will fold into a three dimensional object with the choices given in A through D. This is just one type of test, there are many others. 

As I reflected upon this test, I thought it was an excellent test of the skills a dentist would need to have. What about medical specialties? For example, there are three specialities that are more visually oriented than others, requiring adeptness in pattern recognition: dermatology, pathology, and radiology. How would one devise a test to screen for individuals skilled in pattern recognition? One thought occurred to me several years ago when I interviewed applicants for our dermatology residency program. He was an art history major. To excel in such a major requires the memorization of thousands of paintings, drawings, sculptures, and other works of art. It necessitates the critical parsing of similar works and to provide an erudite discussion justifying one’s decision. In short, it is seemingly an ideal background for these medical specialities requiring keen skills in pattern recognition. 

What about screening for a position in the ministry? Is there a SAT (spiritual admissions test)? I have participated in the selection process for various ministry positions at different churches. As one might expect, the screening process is varied depending upon the position and the composition of the church board and selection committee. Many will rightfully use the familiar Bible passages, quoted below, from 1 Timothy and Titus, that list some of the qualities of a godly pastor as the foundation for their selection.

This is a trustworthy saying: “If someone aspires to be a church leader, he desires an honorable position.” So a church leader must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach. He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent. He must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not love money. He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him. For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church? A church leader must not be a new believer, because he might become proud, and the devil would cause him to fall. Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the devil’s trap. 

1 Timothy 3:1-7 (NLT)

A church leader is a manager of God’s household, so he must live a blameless life. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker, violent, or dishonest with money. Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must love what is good. He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life. He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong. 

Titus 1:7-9 (NLT)

All of these are godly characteristics that should form the basis for screening any applicant for a pastoral position. Yet, in my opinion, there is one quality that should always stand out.  A good pastor is caring and sacrificial on behalf of his church and must always have Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, as his model and example.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. 

John 10:11 (NLT)

A wise man once stated, “Your people will forgive any number of bad sermons, but they will never forgive you if you don’t visit them when they’re ill.”

What is the spiritual aptitude test for a pastor? Will he obey the command of Jesus Christ and care and feed the lambs and sheep of the church?

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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