“For this period in your life, I would highly recommend remaining single.”
We had just ended a meeting with the Biblical Studies department on the prospects of doctoral education when a favorite professor of mine walked up to me and dropped this line. This was not just any professor; he was my hermeneutics professor and the residential scholar for all things wisdom literature. In the eyes of many students, there was no better person to go to for advice than this man who had spend the majority of his life marinating in the wisdom of Scripture.
I would have completely agreed with him except for one minor factor: a girl.
I did not take his advice and pursued a relationship with the young woman. As the relationship continues to grow and the workload of seminary continues to mount I can see the wisdom my professor was trying to share, but I do not in any way regret my decision. In fact quite the opposite.
This short article is meant to be an encouragement that dating while in seminary, although difficult, is possible. And for many of us it might even be beneficial.
Dating Highlights Your Priorities
There is little free time in graduate education. Add to that vocational and ministerial duties and you’ll quickly find yourself paddling hard just to keep your head above water. Yet, despite all these pressures, humans still find time to waste. We still take a little longer than we should will simple duties or procrastinate because we know a simple cram session, although a less responsible choice, will get the job done.
This is a very selfish way to go about life in general. Having a significant other helps to put these duties into perspective. You are not getting an education just to finish it but to better equip yourself for God’s calling. A solid partner will not only remind you of what you need to get done, but why you are doing it. This is priceless.
And for those on the opposite end of the spectrum, who treat every assignment as though their salvation depends upon their grade, a partner can help you too. They can help you see that receiving a B does not make you less valuable as a human being. At the end of the day God’s grading your character, not checking your grades.
Dating Helps You Get Work Done
Looking forward to a date night at the end of the week is great motivation to milk the productivity out of every minute of your weekdays. Eliminating all those small time-killers throughout the week can easily add up to a few extra hours with your beautiful (or handsome) date.
Dating Gives You a Partner for the Journey
Life does not happen in a vacuum. It’s meant to be shared – the good and the bad. Education seems to lend itself more towards the introverts. It masks itself as a lone ranger sort of adventure, but in reality your experience will be much richer the more people you invite on the adventure with you.
Seminary is both difficult and delightful. The highs are exuberating and the lows can be tearful. Taking the risk of sharing these with somebody is a humbling experience. On the one hand they can stand and rejoice with you when things finally fall into place. And on the other, they can be there for encouragement when you find yourself asking why the heck did I decide to do this in the first place. God can use them to keep you running the race and staying the course.
Dating Helps You Realize There is Life After Seminary
This portion is mostly for those, like myself, who are at the front of their journey. The road ahead looks long and rocky. At times it seems as if every step only reveals another twist and turn you had not prepared for yet. How am I ever going to finish?
Having a partner for the journey is essential for putting it into perspective. Three, four, five years – in the long run of your life – is a worthy sacrifice to becoming better equipped. Yes the road is long, but like everything in this life, it will come to an end. You will finish. There is life after seminary. Having a partner there to remind you of that truth, and to see how the relationship will grow over those years, those are beautiful things to hold onto.
Dating Affords You the Opportunity to Pour into Someone
Class after class, lecture after lecture, book after book. The possibility of being “overfed” is a daily reality for the life of a seminarian. Some of it can be dry or unfruitful, but still there is much good that can be harvested by the diligent student. And while ministry will allow us to put some of these things into practice, most of it will have to be saved in a reservoir of spiritual knowledge. On one level it can definitely help our own maturity as Christians. However, being able to share this with someone close can be even more beneficial and exciting. Having a person to pour into during your time in seminary can be such a gift. Not only are you building that intimacy with them but you are encouraging them in their own walk with Christ. And regardless of where that relationship may end up, they should be in a better place with the Lord having met you because you took the opportunity to share what was being poured into you.
Relationships and seminary both require commitment, time, sacrifice and energy. Both have a great cost but both can have such a great reward. After all, there is no time like the present.
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.