5 Takeaways From Seminary After Graduating in 5.5 Years

This past Friday I walked across the stage, shook the hands of some professors, and celebrated the end of a very long journey. This journey started in the summer of 2007 when I decided to enroll at Multnomah Biblical Seminary in the Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies program. Five and a half years later, I am finished!

I’ve written many times on this blog on the value of a seminary education. More often than not seminary is devalued by our culture and by Christians in general.

Some say seminary is an out-dated model for discipleship and ministry preparation. I whole-heartedly disagree. Seminary changed my life and while I’m not sure anyone is ever fully prepared for Christian ministry, I’m more prepared after 5.5 years of seminary. Also, without seminary I never would have learned these invaluable lessons that are as important as the knowledge gained during my course work.

1. Destabilization is OK

I had a professor start a semester-long course by saying, “This course will destabilize a lot of the beliefs and opinions you walked in here with. And that is a good thing.”

He was right. And I was better for it. Sometimes it’s okay not to have all your ducks lined up in a row.

2. Things that Matter Take Time

Nothing that matters was built in a day. Although I wouldn’t fully endorse taking 5.5 years to do seminary either 🙂

Too many people want to make an impact overnight and the harsh truth is that impact rarely, if ever, occurs so quickly.

3. A Charitable Spirit is a Choice

I’ve heard my fair share of seminary student rants about this pastor or that Christian leader, or the wacky views this one student has. In every instance a choice was made to view life from a critical perspective.

No one wants to be a part of a conversation with a critical person. But a charitable spirit breeds conversation ten-fold because they always choose to think the best of people.

4. The More I Learn, The Less I Know

I am sure of one thing: I don’t know much.

When I first entered seminary I had conversations with professors, faculty, and other students and one thing they always brought up was how seminary taught them they know so little. I kind of chuckled at the time, thinking they must not have tried hard.

Surrounding myself with professors and theologians for the last 5 years has humbled me to the point that I’m fully aware of how much progress I still need to make in order to be a good pastor and Christian leader. The work never ends, even after the degree is presented.

5. Formation is More Valuable Than Preparation

I went to seminary to become spiritually formed for ministry, not prepared for it. Spiritual formation can shape future preparation, but preparation in specific fields never leads to formation.

If you pursue any education in order to be prepared for a job or field of work, you will likely be able to have short-term success. But if long-term success and vitality is what you are after, pursue formation within education first.

Those of you who have ventured through a long degree program, what lessons did you learn on through the journey?