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In this episode of Under the Fig Tree, hosts Rev. Micah Glenn and Dr. Ben Haupt chat with Rev. Lawton Thompson, associate pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Des Peres, Mo. A former firefighter, he completed both the Specific Ministry Pastor Program (SMP) and the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) programs at Concordia Seminary. The SMP Program is a four-year pastoral distance education program that prepares men for specific pastoral ministries in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). Lawton recalls taking some SMP online courses Tuesday nights with other men from around the country who also were part of the program. “Just being able to learn things on Tuesday night and then walk into the office on Wednesday morning and put it right into practice ... It was hands-on, on-the-job training and it was beautiful,” he says. “It really was formational for me.” Later, he chose to move to St. Louis to complete an M.Div., the Seminary’s residential pastoral degree, after he discerned that God was pulling him toward full-time ministry instead of part-time, bi-vocational ministry. “As I stepped into that and looked forward to that, I said this will put a little more meat on my bones for ministry. That’s really what I thought was accomplished as I made that transition to the M.Div. Program,” he says. “I feel more confident in teaching in certain areas than I did before.” He also shares some advice for others who are considering a church work career: “The No. 1 thing is to pray. … Prayer is a conversation with God. … We can have a lot of great ideas. His ideas are always best so let Him lead you. He’s going to lead you in ways that you might not expect. He’s going to show you because that’s who He is. He wants you to serve Him in the way that He’s created you to serve Him.”

“Under the Fig Tree” is a video and audio podcast of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. New video and audio episodes are added weekly each Monday during the academic year. “Under the Fig Tree” can be found on YouTube, the Seminary’s Scholar site ( and most podcast platforms including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts. Those interested in vocational ministry are invited to join the Seminary contact list at Request-Information. You can learn more about Concordia Seminary at or by contacting the admissions team at [email protected] or 800-822-9545.


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Laity; Ministers; Future Seminarians; Future Deaconesses

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