Monday, August 18, 2008

Getting the most out of seminary

I was so thankful that I met a man named John Erickson during my second semester. He became a mentor to me during the next five semester and into today. One piece of advice he gave me during the early weeks of our relationship changed how I approached seminary and I am grateful for it today.

In seminary, maybe more than any other graduate program (though I don't have much to compare it to), there is a ton of reading. I mean a ton. The average student will probably read 2000-3000 pages per class, not counting time reading Scripture (which is not suprisingly important in seminary - if you go to a good one). Again, that's per class. John's advice was in the form of a decision: either you'll plow through all the reading in a mechanical way or you'll read it devotionally, allowing it to sink in and transform. I chose the later, which wasn't an easy choice. In essence, it meant I didn't always get all the reading done. But I wouldn't trade the A- for A's if it meant I didn't get anything other than a grade from it.

I am not a fast reader. I plow through slowly, reading paragraphs twice, underlining, commenting. It took time, but I grew in an appreciation for God's word and in awe of God and all he has done for his people and his church.

This choice goes to the very heart of why someone goes to seminary. It's not just to get your ticket punched. It's to be prepared for ministry, whether in a church or parachurch or in an academic setting. This preparation is as much, or more, spiritual and heart focused as it is academic and intellectual.

Don't misunderstand. I didn't use my 'devotional' approach as an excuse to be lazy. I worked hard and got good grades. It was about a mindset, and it's a mindset I would adopt again.

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