This week, we are talking about my reflections from my first completed semester of seminary at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Yesterday, I shared what I learned from an educational view. Today, I am going to share with you what I learned at my first semester of seminary through experience.
You have probably heard seminary referred to as cemetery a time or two in your life. When I was telling people that I was going to go to seminary, they would ask, "You mean cemetery?" Those who had been to seminary, or who knew someone who went to seminary, would warn me against going to seminary. "It will be the driest season of your life," they would caution. I was on a mission from God and would not allow their opinion sway me. Wit these warnings in mind though, I went prepared to have one of the driest seasons of my life. I was prepared to feel like I was in the desert with no water in sight. But, I also did all that I could to keep the water as close as possible.
Before moving, I made sure that I was daily dedicating ample time to God. I wasn't just reading my Bible and praying, I was silently listening to God. I made a daily routine. Upon arriving at seminary, I had to work fervently to keep this routine. I began waking up earlier and earlier just so that I would not miss my quiet time with God. This was one of the wisest things I did in my first semester of seminary.
Another thing I did upon arriving, was immediately get involved in church. Being a Christian is largely about being involved in local ministry, sharing the Gospel, tithing and being surrounded by a body of believers. Yes, I am surrounded by a body of believers at seminary. But, the body of believers I am surrounded by at seminary are different than the body of believers I am surrounded by at church. I wanted a mixture of friends, and more opportunities to get out into the community.
With my relationship with God on guard, I failed to keep my relationship with myself on guard. When most seminary students were struggling with finding time for God, I was struggling with finding time for myself. I was waking up an hour and a half before I had to leave every morning to spend time with God, spending all day at school, coming home to work for a few hours, doing homework or studying for a few hours, and then it was time for bed. The only personal quiet time I had was grocery shopping, but I never had a clear head. It was not until the middle of the semester that I realized I was facing a personal drought in my life. To remedy this, I evaluated my commitments and prioritized my time. I built time in for myself each week. It wasn't easy, but it was necessary.
In my first semester at seminary, I got a real taste of what the "church world" is like. My views on what the "church world" was like prior to going to seminary were limited to one very contemporary church. This semester, I learned how important having a denomination allegiance was to "church people." I learned that even though they are at seminary and want to be (or are in) full-time ministry, they may not be the nicest people. Thankfully, after a few months, I found a stellar group of seminary friends. This reminded me that it is always better to have a few close friends than a lot of not-so-close friends.
The last thing that I learned through experience this semester is how to stand up for what I believe in. There were moments when standing up for what God has called me to do meant going against the grain and not being the most popular in a crowd. I am okay with that. God will always provide and protect.
Chime In! What would you like to know more about my personal experiences at seminary?
Coming Up... I will be sharing my overall reflections on my first semester of #seminarylife.