May 16, 2011

Ten Things I Learned From Seminary-Part 1

Last week I wrapped up my Master's Degree coursework through Liberty University. As a result of the intense workload, I haven't really been blogging much, especially in the last year. So I wanted to get back into it this week by sharing some important lessons I learned while during my time in seminary. Most of the lessons probably aren't what you'd expect because they have nothing to do with the curriculum of the seminary.

10) Seminary Doesn't Make You More Qualified For Ministry.
For you "church people" out there, if you think a piece of paper from a school makes someone more qualified or fit for ministry, you are insane! You're basically saying that God can only work through people who have not only the academic but also the financial means to pursue a degree. I knew when I was in college back in the 90s that I didn't "need" seminary to pursue my calling. Oh yeah, & just in case you need the Bible to back up this idea, Acts 4:13 reminds us that the apostles were "ordinary, unschooled men". Being with Jesus trumps an impressive seminary degree every day of the week.

9) Seminary Doesn't Really Make You Smarter.
Let me explain this because it's a very personal lesson. I was blessed to get my undergraduate degree from one of the finest universities in the nation in a major that was preparing me for ministry. Plus, I'm a learner by nature. I love reading. I love listening to other people in ministry who are further down the road than I am. So when I started seminary, I already had a huge foundation of "knowledge" through my formal & informal education. That means a lot of the information from my courses was not new, but it did reinforce & remind me of things I had learned over the years.

8) Doing Master's Work & Full Time Ministry Demands Boundaries.
If you decide to pursue a graduate degree while doing full time ministry, you better be ready to draw some hard boundaries in your life. Full time ministry will consume every moment of your life if you allow it, which isn't healthy to begin with, but when you add the label of "full time student" to your life, you're really piling it on. This means you've got to learn to say "No". You have to be willing to say, "Sorry, can't do that, I've got 2 papers & an exam this week." You also have to look at your calendar & plan your semester, & you have to prioritize your course schedule. Professors don't care if you overloaded your calendar with meaningless meetings that caused you to turn in a below average paper 3 days late. Create clear boundaries. It's a lesson that you'll benefit from beyond your time in seminary or grad school.

Check back in tomorrow as I continue to share some lessons I learned from pursuing "higher education".

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