The first time that someone warned me about how seminary would affect my relationship with my wife, I said what I’m sure most people in my situation say: “That won’t happen to us.” My seminary has been very upfront with how strenuous the experience is on relationships. You have to devote time to reading. You will spend more hours with your head in a book than you ever have. And you will study for Greek until you’re blue in the face. I don’t think it’s possible to feel good about your abilities pertaining to the Greek language (if you don’t believe me, just wait).
But, that won’t affect our relationship. We’re better than that. We’ve been busy before. I’ll tell you, you’re right, you’ve been busy before. But seminary will affect your relationships. Papers need to get done THIS week, that book had to be read by yesterday. You will be tempted every single day to put your grades first.
You will have good intentions. I’m sure of it. You will hopefully come into seminary with some lines drawn. I would absolutely recommend restricting all of your classwork time to 5 days a week, or cutting yourself off every day at 5 p.m. Those are some great practices that will help you on your way.
But that might just get you a B. More time would boost that grade up to something you really want it to be. More time and effort could help you write a paper that you’re proud of. But, that additional time and effort could push your wife and kids right to the fringes of your life.
I’ve been blessed where I am. My seminary has been very up-front with me. I came into the seminary experience expecting difficulty, expecting to struggle with finding time for my family.
At orientation they told us about how to find our “reasonable best”. That concept has helped me out greatly. We all know what our “best” looks like. Our best is when we spend time working on that paper at our peak time of the day, when we are feeling at our best. Our “best” may also involve late, lonely nights with a Mountain Dew and potato chips. Our best takes us being at our best, giving everything we have to that paper until we feel we cannot possibly improve upon it. Your “best” will ruin your seminary experience. My school told me that, day one.
They want your “reasonable best”. They want what you can give without giving it all. Give your work your full attention until 5 o’clock or until your wife gets home from her job. Read as much as you can, but your professor knows that your relationship has got to come before reading every last footnote. Give what you can reasonably give. I don’t think anyone wants to meet the miserable creature that crawls out of seminary with a poor marriage, a dead social life, and a bitterness towards hard work. Give what you can give, but preserve what is important. Take care of yourself, and your family.
By Nate Roschen, Small Town Pastor / Denver Seminary Student / Blog: overproportionate.blogspot.com