As my seminary experience comes to a close, I want to share with you two of the unexpected things I learned while at seminary. Of course I expected to know the Bible better, to learn about church history and theology, and to become a more qualified teacher. But, I did not expect these two lessons.
1. Spiritual maturity takes time. One of the biggest influences on my decision to go to seminary was the pastoral staff at my church in college. The majority of the staff attended Dallas Theological Seminary, where I am now about to graduate.
If you had asked me what I thought about seminary graduates back then, I would have imagined some super spiritual saint who spends hours a day in prayer and the rest of the time doing evangelism and studying Scripture. Oh, and they would never sin either. They would make the right choice 100% of the time.
Well, I wish I could say this describes me now as I graduate in a few months, but unless the last three months of seminary magically transform me into a supersaint, then I guess I’m going to fall short of my prior perfection perception of a seminary graduate. Nevertheless, this has encouraged me and strengthened my trust in the Lord.
The words of Paul encourage me: “Not that I have already obtained or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3.12). Even Paul the supersaint had to press on to maturity. Apparently, I am in good company.
2. Seminary will humble you. Will seminary will turn you into a dogmatic, unloving person who only wants to argue about theological topics like supralapsarianism? I don’t think so. While this may happen to a few, this has not been my experience. Rather, I have been humbled during my time at seminary.
Although I’ve taken courses on every book of the Bible, and even studied many of those books in Greek or Hebrew, I still feel like I have miles more to dig. So much of God’s truth can be packed into one small verse, and yet we have 66 books given to us. Not only does spiritual maturity take time, but learning God’s word takes time.Perhaps there is some relation.
Another way seminary will humble you is preaching class. It may be the best “humbler” at seminary. After listening to hundreds or maybe thousands of sermons in your lifetime, you start to think preaching can’t be too difficult. After all, the preacher manages to do it every week and usually does a pretty good job. However, wait till you preach your first sermon in class and then have to watch the recording of it! Maybe you’re a natural, but for me, it was a humbling experience.
Finally, seminary will humble you by challenging your convictions and beliefs. Maybe I don’t have it all right. Maybe I do misinterpret this passage. Maybe I do have an incorrect view on how God wants me to live. Other students, professors, and your own studies will cause you to really think about your convictions. It will humble you but also mature you.
What unexpected lessons will God teach you at seminary?
Cameron Sapaugh lives in Dallas, TX with his wife Kellie. After graduating with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M, he headed off to Dallas Theological Seminary. He is currently in his last semester of the ThM program and hopes to pursue doctoral studies in New Testament in the fall. He enjoys photography, basketball, reading, writing, and windsurfing.