As my semester of seminary has finally finished I’ve been doing some thinking about the value of it all. I sit in class for hours on end each week listening to lectures while taking notes, engaging in discussion around issues of the Bible, church ministry, culture, and theology, and I wonder what the true value is at the end of the day.
I can’t start quoting too many pieces of information that I’ve memorized from the books I read the past 3 months or parts of a lecture I’ve memorized. I’ve done well enough to store all that in my short term memory so I don’t fail the final (I think I did anyway), but it leaves fairly quickly afterward. Our culture teaches that if I can’t remember those important details word for word in a year, then I’ve lost the value of that education.
What we should be valuing in education is not memorization of information, but instead the formation of a person.
Over the past 4 years of reading book after book, writing paper after paper, listening to lecture after lecture, I can hardly pinpoint specific things that have stuck with me over the years, but I do know that I’m a different person now than I was then. The value of the education to me is not found in a pile of books I read, or the load of notebooks I’ve filled with notes from class, it’s the change that has taken place in my life through God’s Spirit and his use of the books, notes, papers, and discussions.
When I set out to get in shape for a half marathon I ran multiple times a week, for over 6 months to prepare. There was never any specific run that helped me get ready to run 13.1 miles, it was the combination of all the runs that prepared my mind and body.
It’s the same thing with education. The best education can’t be wrapped up in a single book or notebook of lectures in class, it’s the slow formation that takes place slowly but surely if we continue to allow God’s presence to work as only he can.