Q&A with Mahcoe Mikel

Can you start by telling us a little about yourself outside of your role as a seminary student?

I have been married for 12 years to my glorious wife, and we have been blessed with three wonderful girls, ages 11, eight, and five. I’ve been a member of the Church Without Walls under Pastor West for a little over 25 years. I recently have begun to serve as the campus minister for a rehabilitation hospital. I’ve been serving there for the last three years.

Why did you decide to attend Truett Seminary in Houston?

It’s a funny story. Truett was never on my mind. My career was in the corporate world, operations management. I had been serving in ministry at the Church Without Walls for about 20 years, but ministry was something else to do. It was what I did on Sundays. I never saw it as full time, never pictured pastoring. That just wasn’t on my mind. I was set on corporate leadership.

Then suddenly, I was available without work. Plans had changed. Dreams had changed. It was in that moment that God had my full attention. I received the opportunity to preach at the rehabilitation hospital, and everything just changed from there. I could clearly hear and see that God wanted more out of me besides corporate work. I was very grateful that he gave me that time in corporate America and blessed that time, but now it was as if he was saying, “Okay, I want you on board, all the way.” For God to be that serious about me, I had to get serious as well.

I saw a friend. He asked me what I was going to do. I hadn’t seen him in years, so it was strange how he asked me that question. I told him I was going to pastor, and he said that I needed to go to school for that. He asked what schools I was looking at, so I told him. Then, he stopped right in the middle of the hallway and said, “You’re going to Truett.” It just registered immediately with me.

Pastor West had always spoken highly of Truett, and we have Dr. Gregory here in the summers. So I knew of the school, I just didn’t think it was for me. It was a dream school, a prestigious school. Without a job, without the money, I just didn’t think it was a possibility. I went to the Houston Preview, which happened to be a few weeks later. I sat there thinking, “Okay, Lord, how are you going to put this together.” And everything fell in place. It all came together, and it has been a wonderful journey since then.

What are some parts of your seminary journey that have been the most impactful for you?

The journey through the different classes, along with the different people, has been the most impactful. The professors all had very unique styles of teaching, and each one seemed to teach in a way that let you know how much they cared for you. This was not about taking a class, getting a grade, and that’s it. They literally poured themselves into us—very caring, very prayerful. We opened every class with prayer. And they challenged us as well. They want the best from you, but they pour their best into you so that you can get that.

I also appreciated the diversity of students. We got to take this journey with different stories and different experiences. Even when we leave the class, we’re still in contact with each other. We’re still praying for one another. We’re still encouraging each other.

Each class was a different step in the journey. It seems as though God put all of the right professors in place at just the right time to cover just the right material. We had the right foundations that really helped shape how we thought about ministry, how we thought about service. At least for me personally, I can see the vision clearer and clearer each semester.

What are some of the lessons you have learned in seminary that you believe will inform and shape your future ministry work?

Listen carefully. Pause before speaking, and speak just as carefully. It’s okay to disagree, and it’s okay to not see things the same way. How we talk to each other matters. I’ve seen that come out in my preaching—to preach carefully and to be very mindful of the words I use and how the people who have different backgrounds and experiences will hear those words.

In the rehabilitation hospital, I’m preaching to a richly diverse group of people—not just racially diverse, but religiously, denominationally, culturally diverse. You will have all of these different backgrounds and experiences, and you can’t just talk the same “church language” to this group. Your words really matter.

Any thoughts on next steps after graduation?

I’m still thinking through it. So far, what I think I can see clearly, is that I want to teach at the university level. Pastoring? Most certainly. Writing books? I would like to author books. I would like to facilitate conferences, working in Christian organizations. I still have that operational mindset, and I want to put it to use.

I also want to help churches focus on leadership. I think there’s a unique opportunity where we can revisit leadership within the church, especially considering the state of our nation. It seems to be a very unique time in the life of the church when it makes sense to focus on leadership and get realigned. I would like to help with that.

What would you say to a student who is considering attending Truett in Houston?

This is an opportunity that you would not want to miss. Truett offers community. Truett offers relationships. Truett offers some of the most wonderful professors. The community offered at Truett will literally shape your life. It will shape your ministry, contribute to your vision. Lifelong lessons come out of Truett. You certainly come out better on the other side.

George W. Truett Theological Seminary