Education is important. Many employers and even ministries will not even give you a second glance without it. Continued education is a must. Become educated and you can do anything! These are all things I heard beginning with my first day in middle school. My family did not put the pressure on me and even worked as a force to dissuade me at times. I can proudly say that I am the first in my family to graduate from college, let alone seminary. My four years of full immersion into indoctrination made me feel invincible and excited to get out into the word and save it from itself. What I did not know, along with many of my peers, is that more oftentimes than not it is not that simple.
I was fortunate to land a flexible job as soon as school started my freshman year. I went to class in the mornings and worked in the evenings at Barnes and Noble. Not only was this a flexible job, but a dream job as my love for books and coffee has always been a source of comfort. Little did I know that this job would act as a force to balance my studies with real life experience. Honestly I did not realize this until half way through my freshman year. Barnes and Noble was the place where, in the small city of Springfield, same sex attraction was the main employable factor. Why they employed me knowing I was going to seminary, I will never know.
Life was busy. I lived off campus so my main focus was school and work. My spare time consisted of doing everything and anything I could at our church of 2,000 from teaching 3rd grade to working with drug addicts, I felt that I was becoming a well-rounded person and securing my place in “ministry” was more than important, I felt it was crucial. Sure I went to the occasional forum at the local state college where one of my co-workers was typically debating some topic in relation to being gay with some other student or faculty, but I considered my real ministry to be within the walls of the church.
Experience oftentimes equals more than just being content to reside where one is comfortable. My workplace was not comfortable, but I found myself having conversations that were not even considered in class, due to their “worldly” and sometimes really real nature. These conversations led to several accepting Christ within their own timing, after discovering that the few of us who followed Him were not the stereotypical judgmental type. Beyond that, I found myself developing friendships with my co-workers that oftentimes consisted of debates and offering up advice. I know now that God gave me Barnes and Noble to stretch and grow me while I had my head in every commentary in the library. My encouragement to anyone working through seminary is to remain relevant. Become a person who is (Romans 12:2) not conforming while transforming. Push yourself into the uncomfortable but always remember to hold your lifeline of believers tightly in one hand. Little did I know that my expectations of saving the world were unrealistic, but the work I was doing at Barnes and Noble was truly saving a few in more ways than one. Education is important but without application and experience, it is worthless.
By Robyn Towler Robyn is currently working towards finishing up her Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. She lives with her husband and two furry babies: Lleywn, a one year old Welsh Corgi and Calvin, a three year old tabby cat, in Sunny Colorado. She is passionate about working with children and families and plans on adopting cross culturally someday.