Prior to getting married in 2008, my wife and I dated for four years. During these years we were able to get to know one another’s goals, each other’s purpose in life, and set somewhat of a course for what we wanted to achieve together. One of my wife’s values is education. In school, Tiffany originally wanted to pursue pharmacy and medicine but changed her major and graduated with a Bachelors in Science. She then decided to pursue a Master’s in Education and eventually a Doctorate in Education. Unfortunately, my values for education weren’t exactly the same. I struggled and sluggishly fought my way through three undergrad programs at two different universities. During our time dating, Tiff mentioned once that we would get married after I had completed my Master’s degree, to which my response was a roll of the eyes and a surprised “Yeah, right!”. I had felt the call to ministry shortly after meeting Tiff, but I had never felt the call to higher learning. Not only could I not see myself ever achieving a Master’s degree, but I was scared out of my mind of ever pursuing one. I also had no clue as to what I would study – business, journalism, communications? I certainly wasn’t going for religion, as I was at that time persuaded that cemetery…. I mean seminary, was the place where preachers go to die. What had this woman done? That night after my wife’s shocking (for me) statement, a seed was planted. For the first time in my 19 year old life, I had considered higher education. For the first time in my life I had envisioned myself in seminary.
Since the moment that I decided to pursue seminary, my wife, who was my fiance at the time, has played a major role as a constant encourager and supporter of my goal. Here are some ways in which she has encouraged me and supported me prior to to seminary and during seminary. I hope these will help you and your spouse as you may be thinking about seminary or as you currently attend.
From day one of this journey, Tiff has always been great at listening to my many excitements, joys, frustrations, doubts, fears and concerns about seminary. As I previously stated, school was a struggle for me and I often lacked motivation and doubted myself at times but my wife was always there to listen and share these feelings. In deciding what seminary to attend or what courses to take and when to take them, a listening spouse is always a great help and a voice of reason when making decisions concerning seminary.
If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself passionately agreeing or disagreeing with many new and “deep” truths in seminary. You’ll find the hills that you’ll resolve to die on and all the while, as these hills change and shift, your spouse will most likely be hearing about them. Tiff has been wonderful in listening to my many ramblings and ventings about things I have encountered in seminary and graciously and patiently encouraging me in the midst of them. Although your spouse may not be able to provide a countering argument to your thoughts about free will and predestination or even though they may not understand or even care about some of the things that you feel your world now revolves around, listening always helps and is a great way to see the grace of God working in your spouse’s heart. A listening spouse will make the road to seminary that much easier.
When I think of how my wife encouraged me in my decision to go to seminary, I immediately think of how she began to think of ways in which I could be most effective with my time. She started out by simply buying me a calendar to write out deadlines and course schedules. She also encouraged me to set aside specific times to study and read rather than taking just any random time to do my studies. Talking with your spouse and encouraging them to manage their time well allows for them to pursue their studies with focus and ease. In addition to this, it also ensures that you both have time for each other. The encouragement that I have recieved from my wife concerning my studies in seminary has been great, but the encouragement that she gives me to lead our family in the midst of busy and assignment filled week is much more dear to my heart. I often read on seminary blogs and hear from pastors that one’s devotional life and family life can be a two of the areas that can go lacking very subtly for the seminary student. In all my learning it is still vitally important to pursue communion and fellowship with God and to lead my family in communion with Him as well. If you are thinking about attending seminary, this is a conversation that would be great to have with your spouse. How you make time to study, read, pray, and lead your family is something major to think about before adding seminary to your life. A spouse that provides encouragement to balance these things and do them well will be a blessing to the one who is pursuing seminary.
The decision to attend seminary is huge. It can be something that will shape the rest of your life and the lives of your family as well. Having a spouse that will listen and encourage you in your decision will benefit you greatly in the long run.
Written by Rayshawn Graves. Rayshawn is a Christian,Husband, Preacher, and basketball connoisseur. He is in his first year of completing his Masters of Arts in Theological Studies at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. During his free time, Rayshawn enjoys exploring Richmond’s restaurants with his wife, reading books and writing at AdjustMyThoughts. You can connect with Rayshawn on Facebook or Twitter