Role Reversal: David Hawken’s Journey from Trainee to Trainer


Role Reversal: David Hawken’s Journey from Trainee to Trainer

David Hawken grew up in Murwillumbah, in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. He is grateful to have grown up in Christian home, attending a local Presbyterian church with the rest of his extended family. 

When David was about 16 years old, he attended a Christian youth camp. It was at this time he really started to own his faith.

After finishing school, heading to university and becoming a high school teacher, David ended up teaching at a school in Sydney. It was during this time that he started to re-consider how he should spend his time.

“I had already given as much as I could to the church in my capacity as a full-time teacher,” David explains. “I’d lead the youth group, and I’d occasionally lead the service, and sometimes I’d preach. But that was about all I could do, given I had a full-time job. And so the idea sort of grew on me. Would I rather be teaching kids about geography, or about Jesus?”

David wrestled with that for about 12 months. By the end of that year, it was clear to him: he felt convicted to invest more time teaching people about Jesus than about geography.

The first step David took was an MTS apprenticeship through his church.

“I didn’t think it would be a job that I’d be good at,” David admits. “So at first I thought I’d just dip my toe in the water. I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll try it and it probably won’t work out, but that’s OK, because I can always go back to teaching.’”

As it turns out, the apprenticeship surprised David—in a good way.

“It was such a learning experience, because the things that I at first thought would be a real drag actually turned out to be really awesome.”

One of those things was leading a Bible study group for seniors.

“I just thought, ‘Oh, I’m not going to be good at this. You know, this is not my thing. I’m a high school teacher,’” David shares. “But in the end, of all the things, I think that was one of the most encouraging experiences! I’m so glad I had to do it, because if it were up to me to choose, I never would never have chosen that.”

The apprenticeship showed David that he could do things that he hadn’t thought he’d be able to do. It was the encouragement he needed to head down a path to full-time ministry. The next step: Christ College, where David was equipped to become an ordained minister.

These days, the shoe is on the other foot: David is the one doing the training.

Part of David’s role as the minister at Griffith, in southwestern New South Wales, is that of Trainer to his Trainee—who is also named David!

“Having had the experience of an apprenticeship myself, I knew roughly what the experience would be like,” David explains. “And I knew that I’d benefited from it myself. So I certainly encouraged Dave when he was thinking about this to pursue it.”

David felt the Christ College Traineeship was a perfect fit. Essentially, Trainee Dave is spending two years splitting his time between ministry at church and studying remotely through Christ College.

“So he’s doing his first year of Bible college across two years,” David explains. “He’s able to tune in to watch lectures and participate in discussions.”

Dave is currently involved in a variety of aspects of church life, but the two main ways he’s serving are in youth ministry and music ministry.

For David, the experience as a Trainer has been overwhelmingly positive.

“It’s stretching me as a minister,” David says, “because it’s one thing to know how to do something yourself, and it’s another thing to teach someone else. It’s been really good for me personally, because if ever I’m going to do something now I’m thinking, ‘How do I teach someone else?’ I also like the structure of the traineeship. I think the setting of goals and having a well-rounded experience of ministry is really helpful.”

David believes that becoming a Trainer is a worthwhile investment of his time.

“There’s a time and energy cost in a way,” he explains, “But really what you’re doing is just changing how you use your time. So rather than, let’s say, investing all the time you would normally spend preparing a sermon—what you’re doing is you’re investing that time in helping somebody else to prepare the sermon. So in that sense, it’s not substantially more work. It’s just changing the way you use your time, because what you’re needing to do is to think about how to encourage someone else to do what you do.”

For more information about the Christ College Traineeship, head here.


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