Musings on Ministerial Education, Or Lack of It
As a seminary student these past few years, a college and high school grad, I have been a student for at least 24 of my 28 years, including preschool. In all that time, I can look back and say with honesty that God has used my educational background to bring me precisely to this point in my life mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I have never been more prepared to fulfill His call on my life, and I have never been in a better place to learn how to fulfill that calling. I attend the number one religious seminary in America (Southern Baptist Seminary), I work under one of the best Deaf pastors in America, and I live in a pretty neat town–where I recently became a “bivocational” pastor–that has everything I need (except for good sweet tea!).
I shudder to think what my life would be like without education. Oh, it wouldn’t have been too bad–I’d be living back home in Dayton working as an electrician, and possibly learning to be a contractor so as to help my Dad out and help run the family business. I’d long ago have been able to afford my own car and possibly my own house. But ah, the best-laid plans of mice and men, so to speak.
But seriously, education instilled in me a love of learning that is quite stupendous, if I do say so myself. I would never be content to be an electrician. I would always want more for myself. I would always want to emulate Jesus in this regard, always wanting to “grow in wisdom and stature.”
Now, having said that, I just don’t understand those who are resistant to education. “Oh, I will learn from experience, I don’t need school.” What a load of bigheaded, idiot claptrap. Nothing, in my opinion, is more egotistical and stupid than for someone who wants to be in a certain profession to resist going to school to study that profession. School enriches the mind, makes things clearer to you. Education, when persued, makes one’s experience worthy and places it in proper context. Even the Apostle Paul placed great value on education, because without study Timothy could never have learned the proper doctrine by which to judge his experience.
Please don’t misunderstand me, education beyond high school is certainly not for everyone. Some people just plain don’t do well in a school environment. That’s fine. But there is a massive, massive difference between knowing one’s limitations and refusing to go to school at all. I think those who are resistant to educating themselves do themselves and others a major disservice, not to mention the insult towards those who resemble the excuses they create for themselves, yet still attend school.
If I hear someone tell me one more time that they don’t like tests; don’t like writing papers; they’re too busy raising a family; they’re too busy working to provide for their families; or some other inane excuse, I’m going to be very mean to them. Just these four excuses alone describes at least 75% of the student body at Southern, and they still persevere! I have more respect for the student friend of mine who has three kids, a wife, a house mortgage, a full time job, and a full time class load than for the slackers out there making life harder on themselves and their ministries.