Faculty Q & A with Tate Cockrell

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Tate Cockrell with sign

Q: Tell us about yourself.

A: I was born in Mississippi, and spent six years in Aberdeen, Scotland as a child because my father worked in the oil industry, which took us to Europe. Eventually, we moved back to Mississippi. I went to college at William Carey University and completed two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. at Southwestern Seminary.

I have been married to Wendy for 22 years. We have three kids: my 20-year-old daughter, Tatum, and twin boys, Preston and Spencer, who are 12.

Q: How did you come to SEBTS?

A: I taught at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary for five years in the early 2000s, and we thought we’d be there forever. Eventually we were called back to Mississippi to serve a local church. After 10 years there, I spent two years at The Church at Brook Hills while also teaching doctor of ministry classes for Southeastern. After my wife and I visited the Southeastern campus early in 2014, we fell in love with the school and town and hoped to one-day move here.

Q: When people ask you, “What do you do at Southeastern,” what is your response?

A: My official job titles are “Associate Professor of Counseling” and “Assistant Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program.” I teach people how to care for and counsel the body of Christ. I also help recruit students for the D.Min. program, and assist with their research project along the way.

Q: On what are you currently working?

A: I have a number of book projects in my head. But the main project I’m working on is a draft of a book teaching micro-skills in counseling—how to listen well, how to use good body language and other practical ideas. I hope to get this published in the next couple of years.

Q: What have you been reading recently?

A: I just finished “Side by Side” by Ed Welch, which talks about the ways we can informally counsel our friends and family. I am currently reading “Developments in Biblical Counseling” by J. Cameron Fraser, which gives an overview of the biblical counseling movement.

Q: When you get home from work, what do you look forward to doing?

A: I love playing golf. I recently picked up cooking as a hobby, doing various things on the grill. Our family also enjoys hanging out and playing board games together.

Q: Who are your role models?

A: Growing up, my dad was a huge role model for me. He has always been a faithful father and employee. When he was saved in his late thirties, it was like the Apostle Paul moved into the house. He started leading our family spiritually and it had a profound impact on me.

Professionally-speaking, Dr. Jim Headrick was a professor and eventually a colleague of mine. He taught me so much about counseling and being a man of God, and I am forever grateful for him.

Q: What has God been teaching you lately?

A: I’ve been learning a lot through our time of transition to Wake Forest and Southeastern. The main thing God is teaching me is that we have to keep the main thing the main thing even when life is distracting.

Q: Where are some of your former students?

A: They are in local church ministry, on the mission field and in other places. I am most proud of the biblical counselors I have taught that have gone out into the dark world of secular counseling where secular humanism dominates. They are light in the darkness there, and I’m thankful for them.

Q: When a student completes your class, what do you want him or her to walk away with at the end of the semester?

A: My hope is that students will be personally affected by what I teach them before they try to counsel others. I don’t want broken people trying to fix other broken people. I want students to work on themselves first.

Q: We always say that every classroom at SEBTS is a Great Commission classroom. What does that look like for your class?

A: I hope to show students that the Great Commission isn’t only about making converts, but making disciples. Biblical counseling is a huge part of discipleship, and I hope my students recognize the link between biblical mission and biblical community. As they take the gospel to the nations I pray they take a heart to care for those who trust Jesus.

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