Tuesday, June 13, 2017

3 Reasons Not To Pursue Theological Education

Yesterday, I shared some reasons why you should consider coming to The College at Southeastern for your undergraduate education.

Today, I'm not writing only to undergraduates wishing to pursue theological education, but those considering coming to seminary also.

Not everyone should come to seminary, and here are three reasons why you should not pursue a theological education (or at least not right now).

  1. You are not called by God: This is the primary reason. I was certain I was called by God to come to Southeastern. Had I just wanted to finish my college degree, I could have returned to the institution where I had begun my undergraduate education. It would have been far easier: they have a great evening continuing education program, and it was right in my hometown. But, no, I was certain through prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit I was being called to pursue a theologically focused education. Even if you are not called to pursue a seminary or Bible college degree, you can still be an effective minister of the gospel and witness to the world in any career you might pursue. Also,  if you are not truly called by God for this type of education, your entire seminary career could be drudgery. If he calls you, he will give to the strength and ability to work through and persevere!
  2. You are not enabled by God: Although I felt called to Southeastern, I was a mid-career 30-something who had other life responsibilities. Although it took a bit of faith to disrupt my life and make the move to Wake Forest, NC to begin my education, through prayer and seeing prayers answered I was able to see God working to enable me to make this transition. If a door gets closed, and appears to be locked, do not try to force it open. God is all knowing, and perhaps you are called, but the time simply is not right. God will let you know when to proceed. Above all, pray constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
  3. You are not ready to work: I'm not going to sugar coat anything. A theological education will require real work. This isn't Sunday School. You will be reading a lot. You will be writing a lot. You will still most likely have a job. You will have family responsibilities, and church responsibilities. The world does not stop just because you are in seminary. It will be hard. You may want to quit. As much as I enjoy the academic activities of reading and writing, I spent long enough away from structured education to remember what it is like to just not have anything to do. Those times will be rare when you are mid-semester. You will constantly have stuff that needs to be done. Be ready to dig in and work. 

If you know that you are called, that you are enabled, and that you are ready to work, I will close with three pieces of advice. First, you will have lots to do. Rest is important. This is a great time to grow in your enjoyment of hobbies while working hard at studies. You need to have a balance of work and rest or you will quickly burn out. 

Second, although you will be in the Word every day, and will be reading lots theological texts, do not let the Bible become a text book. You still must find time to have a worshipful devotional life. Do not become a spiritually starved academic. Make sure you are doing your school work for the glory of God and not just to get a piece of paper to hang on your wall to impress men (1 Corinthians 10:31Colossians 3:23). Worship God through your schoolwork.

Third and finally, ensure you maintain your love for Jesus and your love for the lost people around you. Don't seal yourself up in a seminary bubble where the only people you know, talk to, or are around are people at school and at church.

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