Disclaimer: This works for me. It might not work for you. If you flunk out of seminary after taking my advice, I’m sorry.
I came to The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in the fall of 2009. I was excited to be able to learn from some of the world’s greatest professors. I figured I would learn so much and that I would grow in my relationship with the Lord in ways I didn’t imagine. My first semesters didn’t disappoint.
After awhile, though, my soul started to ache a bit. The greatest impact was on my Bible reading. I started reading less devotionally and more as a seminary student. To use the words of Paul Tripp I was becoming more concerned with mastering the text (at least in the eyes of my professors and fellow students) than being mastered by the text.
Then my passion for theology books and studying started to dwindle. That might not seem like a big deal, but it was. We strive to become like what we most admire. Before seminary, when I so passionately devoured theology books it wasn’t for head-knowledge. It was because I loved God and wanted to be more like Him. I wanted to learn how to be a better minister.
Then I started having to read. And having to write papers on the Bible. My heart changed. I became a student of SBTS and no longer a student of the LORD.
So, I started taking fewer classes and threw myself into other stuff and promised myself I’d finish seminary eventually. I took it very slow. Now I’ve amped up my schedule again. I’m working my tail off to graduate as soon as possible.
I’m getting busy with seminary classes again but as of now my heart hasn’t changed with it. One thing is different. And here is my tip:
If you are a seminary student forget that you are a seminary student; Live as though you aren’t.
You still have papers due.
You still have books to read.
You still have quizzes and tests to take.
But by all means don’t let yourself be a student of your school and forsake being a student of the Lord. Always keep it in front of you that the reason you read a book is not because the professor tells you to—it is because you are trying to know the Lord more. You aren’t writing a paper because a professor tells you to—you aren’t writing to please men—you are writing to get out on paper what the Lord is showing you. You are writing to tell of the excellencies of Jesus.
I’ll close with a blunt statement that I believe is true. If you can’t do this…if you become a student of a school more than a student of Jesus…I don’t think you’ll make a good pastor/minister. You’ll get eaten up. If you sacrifice your relationship with Jesus on the altar of a theological education then you’ll do the same thing when the heat of ministry gets turned up.
So make that commitment now. You’ll get an F in Systematic Theology before you let your heart grow numb. The sooner you do this—and the sooner you forget you are in seminary—the more fun you’ll have and the more you’ll actually learn.