During the five years it has taken me to complete two masters degrees I have learned many lessons, enough to write a book or at least discuss over a french press. The six lessons below are more of a starting piece for those just entering seminary. Some of the lessons below were advice given to me and some I learned as I went through out my studies. If you have been to seminary yourself then please feel free to comment below with any additional lessons that you think would be helpful to mention.
1. Find a church community to be a part of quickly and stay there. Sadly, many times Bible College and seminary students can be the worst church attenders. This is because they fail to join in membership, which leaves them the freedom to attend when they feel like it and hop around. I would like to think that Southeastern students buck that trend, but I know that at least a percentage of students fall into that category. All it takes is a the new hip Acts 29 church plant to “launch” and one will see a herd of students fleeing one church to be part of this new church. Now, there are exceptions to the rule such as God calling someone into church planting and wanting to get experience at a plant, but many students just flee for the “cool” factor.
My wife and I attended three churches one time each and then became members of the Summit Church. This was one of the best decisions that we made because it called us to a higher commitment and accountability level within the body of Christ. Our local church also walked with us through the trials and hardships of seminary and equipped us and sent us out to South Asia.
2. Pick the best professors, even if they are the hardest professor for that particular area of study. I naively chose one of the hardest professors to take a Philosophy course with my second semester, but looking back I am so glad that I did. During my time in seminary I intentionally chose the best and hardest professors because I knew that the hard work was worth it and would benefit me in the long run.
3. Do not be afraid to ask questions and/or disagree with your professors in a grace-filled, biblical way. I will be the first person to tell you that I do not agree with every stance my seminary takes on particular issues, but neither do the professors. One thing that I appreciated about my seminary is that they would regularly bring in guest speakers that were from outside the denomination of the school. I always felt that my school was a safe place to ask questions, come to a different conclusion within the biblical realm, and express that in a loving way.
4. Be the best student you can possibly be, but be an even better spouse and parent. My first semester of seminary my theology professor told us that for some of us it would be a sin not to get an A in his course. He told others it would be a sin if we did get an A in his course. His point was that there is a balance to life and there are priorities that come before being a student. This caused me to strive hard for an A in most courses, but also led me at times to know that a B or even a C may be the highest I would be able to obtain based on being a husband and father first.
5. Do not neglect your personal time in the Word and prayer because of your studies. The temptation was often that because I was studying so many things about God’s Word that there was no need for me to study God’s Word. Along with this there is always the risk in seminary to become full of head knowledge, but void of heart knowledge.
6. Start practicing and utilizing your gifts during your time in seminary. Some guys want to wait until they graduate, but in my opinion seminary is a great time to use your gifts. Practice them in your local church, start a gospel community, start serving with the city, and bringing the Kingdom to your city as it is in Heaven.