If going to seminary has even crossed your mind, it’s likely because you know and love what God is doing in the world through his people. Which begs the question: Why should I take a break from my ministry, shut myself up in a library, and read books while there are people in the world who need to come to a saving, life-changing knowledge of God? I’m young, passionate, and ready to give over my time, effort, and affections to furthering the gospel.
In his masterful novel, The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky writes a character named Alyosha Karamazov, a young monk (a seminarian!) who struggled with the tension between education and mission like many of us do, asking the same questions. Here is the commentary that Dostoevsky offers. “Alyosha,” he says, “was partly a young man of our time–that is, honest by nature, demanding the truth, seeking it and believing in it, and in that belief demanding immediate participation in it with all the strength of his soul; demanding an immediate deed, with an unfailing desire to sacrifice everything for this deed, even life. Although, unfortunately, these young men do not understand that the sacrifice of life is, perhaps, the easiest of all sacrifices in many cases, while to sacrifice, for example, five or six years of their ebulliently youthful life to hard, difficult studies, to learning, in order to increase tenfold their strength to serve the very truth and the very deed that they loved and set out to accomplish–such sacrifice is almost beyond the strength of many of them.”
I’ll break it down Dostoevsky’s thoughts just a little bit.
Passion for ministry is good. It’s nothing short of the deep love for the mission of God that ought to make someone consider withdrawing, even for the sake of the mission. Plus, if you do seminary well, the understanding you’ll gain will even deepen your passion for ministry.
Education equips. A significant number of my classmates in seminary have said that their reason for coming back to school is that they’ve led their people as far as they can, and that’s about as much as they can do. Their desire to come back to school is for the sake of increasing their strength.
Seminary is sacrifice. In going to seminary, you miss out on the instant gratification of knowing that you’re making a contribution to what God is doing in the world. During seminary, you may feel aimless, ineffective, and insignificant. But couldn’t it be true that God asks us to sacrifice feelings of purpose, effectiveness, and significance for the sake of his mission? What a difficult and trying act of faith it must be to dedicate years of your life to study. Do you have the strength to make this sacrifice?
By Jack Franicevich Jack is an MDiv student at Denver Seminary. His interests range from the doctrine of the church, theologies of friendship and work, preaching, hymn-writing, and grassroots ecumenism to competitive table tennis, cooking for large groups, classical literature, and organizational development.