EDITOR’S NOTE: Robby Gallaty is the senior pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee, and founder of Replicate Ministries.

1. What would you want a seminary student to learn from your story?

I still don’t know how they let me into seminary. I was a year-and-a-half from drugs and alcohol and they let me into the school, so I went there unshaped, raw, and my nickname was “ignorance on fire.” So I went to seminary as basically a poster child for someone who didn’t know anything about preaching, pastoral ministry, Christian ethics, theology, and I left understanding expository preaching, how to handle the text, and I had a passion for missions. I would just say with school it’s simply that you’re going to get out what you put in, and so I went in and knew that the Lord would look on those who were faithful with little and would honor with much, and so I tried to be faithful with homework and papers, and knew that it would eventually pay off. Seminary was a wonderful time for me.

2. What would you advise seminary students to get involved in?

Don’t wait to be in ministry. There are people in your life, people in your church, and people on your campus that you can get together with and meet weekly. I would say that the most spiritual thing you could do besides school work and getting involved in the local church is finding a group of four or five — men with men and women with women — and journey together. You don’t have to be a leader and that’s the beautiful thing about meeting in a small group; you can be a facilitator in the journey. That’s why we created Replicate, which is a resource for practical discipleship ministry.

3. Did you play other sports? What did you learn from those sports?

I grew up doing boxing, karate, jiu jitsu, this UFC no-holds-barred fighting, and that was really good because it helped me develop a disciplined and regimented lifestyle, which helped me in seminary because seminary is very difficult. Those life experiences helped me even as a pastor, because it’s easy to get lazy in the pastorate. You don’t want to get burnt out, but I try to have a healthy balance. You’ll be all out busy for this particular season but then you’ll have a rest time. It is kind of like a long distance runner, where they will run a long distance but then there’s a rest time. You just have to figure out what season of life you’re in.