I could not help but to see a very close correlation between the profession of estate agents and full-time Christian vocation. Since my return from the UK last October, I have been in conversation with a significant number of church leaders and pastors who questioned the relevance and necessity of theological education for pastors and those who desire to serve in full-time Christian vocation. I wonder whether is this an emerging trend in the Malaysian Christian scene where increasing number of church leaders and pastors are now arguing against the need for theological education?
As a former "insider" of the real estate industry, I am all too aware of some of the reasons why many illegal real estate agents exist and why many of them do not see the need to acquire the necessary professional qualifications. First, these unlicensed real estate agents feel that it is simply a waste of time to take up professional training. To be a registered estate agent, the route is often long and time consuming. On average, it takes an average of 4-5 years before one can be registered as a real estate agent. Secondly, to be a registered estate agent, the process is rather complicated. One has to pass the 2-part written examinations comprising a total of 12 papers if the candidate does not possess an undergraduate degree in the filed of valuation, property or real estate. After passing the qualifying examinations, this is followed by a minimum of two years supervised practical training under a Registered Estate Agent, at the end of which, the candidate may sit for the Test of Professional Competence (TPC). It is only after successfully passing the TPC that a candidate is qualified to apply for a licence to practise as a registered real estate agent. Another reason that is often cited for not seeking professional qualification is that the syllabus covered in the qualifying examinations is too broad and theoretical. Most see the requirements to study Land Law, Estate Agency Law, Property Taxation, Principles of Valuation, Building Technology, Principles of Economics, Land Economics are simply a waste of time. Finally, the most frequently cited reason for not acquiring for the professional qualification is this: if there is a short cut in which plenty of money is to be made, why bother and be burdened with acquiring the necessary professional qualification?
We will be celebrating our 50th year of nationhood in one month's time. Our political leaders have often said that we have achieved much development and progress as a nation since independence. Can we also say the same as far as theological education is concerned? Have we also made significant progress in tandem with other areas of development and progress in the nation? Or, like the real estate professional qualification, is theological education no longer deemed necessary and relevant for the training of clergy, pastor and those aspiring to enter full-time Christian vocation?
At the end, I wonder which vocation is better for me: to be a seminary lecturer or practise as a valuer and real estate agent? Hmmm...food for thought...