Five years ago I was an engineer. You would have found me in the computer lab, not the library. And I would have been researching Nvidia GPUs, not looking up John Calvin’s commentary on Job.
Life moves us. God changes us.
When the idea of going to seminary first riddled its way into my mind I was apprehensive to say the least. The list of reasons for why I did not want to go dwarfed the reasons I should.
Over time, Life and God began to rearrange my list.
Before long the question turned from if I go to seminary, to when I go. These three reasons rose above the rest.
Reason 1: To Get A Stronger Grasp of Scripture
If you are attending seminary you will most likely be in a leadership role after graduation. People will look to you for decisions, action, and answers. They will watch what you do because to them, you are God’s representative. To them, you are the Word lived out.
First of all, that should terrify you. James was not simply trying to guard his own job security when he said, “not many of you should become teachers.” He knew the weight of such a responsibility first hand and did not want to paint a rosy picture of ministry life.
That said, we need good teachers and strong examples in every arena – especially the church. A stronger grasp of Scripture will boost your confidence as a leader.
- You will have the comfort of knowing that God is at work: around you, in you and in despite of you. Plus you will actually have Scripture to back that up.
- Your answers will be seasoned with truth; a much more reliable source than merely relying on your own knowledge.
- Criticism won’t cut as deep. If we think it is our neck on the line we are going to be very careful about how we are perceived. But if we are trying to do things “by the book” at least the push back we get won’t seem so personal.
Second, the opportunity to be in a position of leadership should bring you joy! 1 Timothy 3 calls the task noble. It is a very good thing to seek to lead people in a Godly way. Note the list of qualifications in vv.2-7: faithful, self-controlled, hospitable, gentle, respectable, weathered in belief and of good reputation.
How do we get to be that way? Jump over to the next chapter, 1 Timother 4:6, “…nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.”
That is the kind of person I want to be and education on the Scriptures is part of that training.
Second Reason: To Find Some Pauls
No person gets to where they are going without some direction. And God is a God of means.
Maps help us navigate physically. Books help us navigate spiritually and intellectually. Relationships help us navigate life, even the bad ones.
Of course I can throw in the phrase, “God has a plan for your life!” But don’t just skim over that statement because it is true. He has a plan and it involves people.
People are the means by which he directs, molds, and chastens us. Seminary is a great time and place to build a few more of those mentoring relationships.
Make an effort to connect with professors and leaders on campus. Sit down for coffee, grab lunch together, offer to help them grade papers (this doesn’t actually work but it does grab their attention).
Relationships will shape your story more than any other single factor. Want your life to have an impact: find some Pauls.
To Realize How Wrong I Am
This is hard to admit but…I am not always right. Somewhere a flower just died because of that devastating confession.
But seriously, we each come from our own traditions with our own personal convictions, preferences, and hobby-horses. I purposely chose a seminary that had a variety of denominations represented (70+) so that I could interact with others who think differently than I do.
The differences are not core issues – as a Christian seminary some things are indisputable truths. Rather, it is a chance to talk about different traditions, ways of practicing the sacraments, prayer, complementariansim vs. egalitarianism, why that church only uses the KJV, why that church only uses the MSG.
More than that, being in a diverse community helps shape a fuller picture of God.
I remember when I first began considering attending seminary I met with a professor at my college. He began talking about all the different lessons he learned both in and outside of the classroom and I’ll never forget this quote from him, “The funny thing is, once you’re finally handed that Master’s of Divinity is about the time you realize how little you’ve mastered anything of the divine.”
I am excited for the journey. I expect the next few years to be difficult, beautiful and memorable. And who knows, maybe the reasons I finish will be different than why I began.
Question: What are some reasons you chose (or are choosing) to go to seminary?
Written by David Ramos. David is a friend of God and a lover of the Old Testament. When he is not working on his M.Div at Ashland Seminary you can find him teaching Sunday-school or cooking pasta. You can read more from David at OffsetInnocence or connect with him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives and works in Cleveland, Ohio.