A little over a year ago, I had received a call about a scholarship at Bethel Seminary. At the time, I wasn’t so sure if seminary was meant for me at this stage – I was happy with where I was, and although I knew God had called me to ministry and to seminary, I thought that was an eventual path, not an immediate one. In fact, when I asked friends and family members to pray as I prepared my application and walked into interviews, I was very explicit with them that they should pray that God would do whatever God was going to do in this season (as if He wouldn’t anyways?!). God made it clear: this was the season to begin seminary. And now, with my first of four years in the books, God opened my eyes and reignited my heart for His ministry and, overall, Him. I’m grateful for the past year and the lessons it brought me:
The Preparation is What Will Make You a Great Pastor
Take this from a recovering academic perfectionist – it’s easy to get caught up in the results of assignments and find only frustration in the preparation. But the preparation of study guides, sermons, exegesis papers… All of that is what will make you a great pastor or ministry leader, not necessarily the outcome. So approach every assignment with the joy of knowing that your ability to learn how to strategically read and apply the Bible will better prepare you to preach, teach, and counsel others into deeper relationships with the Father.
Community matters because vulnerability is the best way for us to grow. Vulnerability is hard, because it makes us feel… well… vulnerable. This past year, I learned that vulnerability – true vulnerability with the people who care about who we are in our inmost being – makes us more full, not more empty. I’m thankful for people who allowed me to share where my heart was at and, in response, shared what God was placing on their heart for me. Allowing them to speak into my life made me a more healthy person.
Experiential Learning is Worth the Investment
Seminary brought a lot of “newness” into my life. One of these new things was a new church home, and along with it, an internship under some really fabulous pastors. Long-term internships aren’t necessarily a requirement at most seminaries, but they should be. Hear me out: A safe space to practice, question, and learn outside of the classroom is worth the time away from homework. My intern program has been a weekly relief from the rhythm of learning scripture to complete an assignment, and an introduction to the weekly rhythm of learning and loving community for the sake of learning and loving community. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned and the relationships I’ve built.
Seminary Will Make You See God Anew – And That’s Not a Bad Thing
Seminary has helped me to better see God’s work in the history of the church, His promise-keeping in the Old Testament, His love for world missions, His heart for discipling community… The list goes on and on. The things that matter to God should matter to us, and seminary reminds us of that. Beyond that, there have admittedly been weeks where my mind is too tired to take in one more lecture. In that, God has been the Sustainer and the Father: guiding, loving, and securing me in His promises.
I’m thankful for a first year of seminary that has begun to develop me into a whole and holy leader. I can’t imagine being anywhere else.