So here we are! This week, I step foot onto the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary campus as a student for the very first time. Classes will begin, studying will commence (though I’ve been trying to get ahead in my reading already this month) and that means a lot of late nights and long papers. And after the previous posts in this series (click here to catch up), I thought it was important to include the things I hope to avoid while at Seminary.
[Please note: this is not directed at anyone, critical of anyone, or even something I forsee being an issue. But these reasons kept me from attending seminary in the past, and they’re still something to be aware of.]
I don’t want to become a clone
God has created every one of us distinctly different. While I hope seminary gives me the tools I need to be fruitful in ministry and to gain a deeper appreciation for the wonder of Christ, my desire is to humbly become the man of God that Jesus created me to be – not a poor copy of anyone else.
I don’t want to become a drone
While I hope seminary gives me a better grasp on my faith ancestry (Christian -> Protestant -> Southern Baptist), my desire is to stand on the shoulders of the giants of the faith and “preach Christ, and him crucified.” As much as I love the Southern Baptist Convention – as much as I agree with the Baptist Faith and Message – as much as I cling to the five sola’s of the Reformation – none of these have the power to save. None of these have the power to raise the dead. That power is held by Christ alone. Any battle worth fighting or hill worth charging is for His name and none else.
I don’t want to become an academic
One of the reasons I opted to attend Southwestern was their passion for global evangelism. Without that constant reminder – that what happens in seminary is intended to go beyond the manicured lawns and old buildings into the world desperately in need of the gospel – it’s easy for academia to become a goal in and of itself. It’s easy for our studies to terminate on our studies (or on our papers) as we serve our GPA or our knowledge level and we fail to take the life-changing message of Christ’s atoning work on the cross to the world.
I’m going to seminary to equip my ministry – to make me a better pastor. If I lose sight of my calling to preach and to pastor, and only become an academic, then I have failed in spite of whatever grade I receive.
I don’t want to miss out at home
God has blessed me with an incredible wife and 4 (5 in December) amazing kids. I’m called to be a husband and daddy before I’m called to a pastor or a student. I’ve heard far too many stories of seminarians losing sight of their family while in school (or losing their families altogether). This season will require a delicate balance of time. I’ll need to get on the floor and wrestle with the boys, date my wife, spend specific time with my little girl, provide for them financially, and still manage to pull off my studies. I’ve been entrusted with far too much at home to miss out.
I don’t want to neglect my relationship with Christ
Believe it or not, there’s a stark contrast between studying the Word of God, Character of God, and Nature of God and actually spending time with God. The study of God should lead us to bask in his goodness, but it isn’t actually doing so.
Christ is not the means to a good grade or a well-written paper – He is Savior and Lord. God forbid I ever lose sight of that reality. What a tragic thing it would be for seminary to be a place where my relationship with Christ is weakened or neglected.
Here’s where you come in.
Would you pray for me as I take this next step in my journey? Would you pray that I would steer clear of any of these things while in seminary?
- that I would become the man/husband/father/pastor that God created me to be?
- that I would be focused on knowing, savoring, and preaching Christ crucified rather than any message of man or through man?
- that I would never become distracted from the Great Commission that should drive all that I do in seminary and ministry?
- that I would love my wife well, and make the most of my time with my children, training them in righteousness, and helping them cultivate their relationships with Christ
- that in this time, I would sense a deeper, stronger, and more intimate relationship with Christ?