Editor’s Note:

This is a brand new series we are doing to help those who are interested in going to, already in or who have graduated Bible College or seminary. The purpose of this series is to help you grow in the grace of God while you are preparing for, while you are attending and after you graduate from seminary.

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seminary-300x125If you’re called to ministry, there are few things better to give yourself to than an outstanding seminary education. Yet, there are also stumbling blocks and pitfalls along the way in seminary education. Right now there are thousands of young men entering seminary, as green as can be, excited about the academic pursuit ahead. If you know someone who is starting seminary, please share this with them. This is a four part series of invaluable lessons I learned in my five years of seminary education. These lessons are offered in the form of four admonishments.

Admonishment: Contract for a B, Have an Escape, Pray and Memorize Scripture

Summer has ended. The Fall has begun — in more ways than one. Seminary students have experienced syllabus shock and are walking towards December, the end of the first semester. This is a downhill walk along a slippery slope. If you’re like I was, you’re realizing how steep the grade is of this slope. You’re slipping and sliding. You may even be tumbling out of control, overwhelmed. When everything seems out of control, the best thing to do is try to find your bearing and keep up with some disciplines. You may even decide to lower your expectation on yourself.

Take it from one who’s been there. You don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night  feeling like everything is out of control. You don’t want to experience a panic attack because you work 50+ hours full-time, you have a wife, a newborn and you registered for 11 graduate hours because you thought you could handle it.

Here’s three more tips to close this series and help you navigate this first semester.

1. Contract for a B

A lot of professors offer to contract for a grade. Contract grades are kind of a great deal. You decide what amount of work you want to do. As long as the quality of your work matches the grade you contract for, everything works out. I recommend picking one class and contracting for a B. Sure, pick Greek or Hebrew if you want. You probably weren’t going to get an A anyway. Sure you won’t end seminary with a 4.0, but you probably won’t finish with a 2.0 either. The main goal is you’ll still finish! Which is better that what will happen with at least 50% of your peers and up to 75% of them.

I started seminary in historic Stearns Hall at DTS with about 45 other guys. By December, there was about 25 of us. The other 20 didn’t move out to get away from the asbestos. They dropped out of seminary. Likewise, I joined 30 others starting first semester Elements of Greek with Dr. Grassmick, the Academic Dean and inventor of the sentence diagramming system we all use for Greek. I entered second semester with 7 other classmates. I survived Grassmick. Why? It wasn’t because I got A’s. I didn’t. It was because I did not get discouraged. I was okay with not being perfect. Contract for a B and enjoy yourself more.

2. Have an Escape

You’re not a theological android nor should you try to become one. You can’t read Grudem, Piper, and N T Wright all the time — as much as you want to. You need to come up for air and join the rest of us humanoids.

Have an escape. My wife and I picked a T.V. series to watch every semester. Sometimes it took a couple semesters to watch the series. We enjoyed the time together getting acquainted with Jack Bauer, Clark Kent, Jerry Seinfeld, Michael Scott, and Lorelai Gilmore. I also built-in time to read the Spiderman Comics, some classic literature, and played pick up games of soccer every Thursday night with international students in a local park.

3. Pray and Memorize Scripture

I didn’t do this perfect but do you know who did? Jesus. He’s the only one. I remind myself that daily and give thanks for His grace that sustains me as I continue to seek Him.

While you’re in seminary do not forsake spiritual disciplines at the gain of cerebral facts. Being able to write the luw paradigm for a aorist-passive-imperative, though impressive, does not get you anywhere if you’re spiritually washed out.

Take time to get on your knees and thanks God for the privilege to be in seminary and study His Word. Pray for your professors, classmates, their families and your church family. Pray for your family, if you have already been blessed with one. Pray for your future family, especially that spouse you’re hoping to find while in seminary — unless you’ve been given a special gift from God.

Ask God to show Himself to you. Ask Him to reveal Jesus and the multi-faceted gospel in fresh new ways with every course you study. Pray over scripture in every phase of the hermeneutical spiral.

Pray Scripture back to God. The best way to do this is to internalize the Word of God. Take time to memorize Scripture. There is an easy way to do this in collaboration with your studies. Every theology class will have specific Scriptures that pertain to the class. The same can be said for Bible classes, spiritual life, counseling, and pastoral ministry classes. Take time to make a list of Scriptures that match the class and memorize them.

You will not regret doing this. I regret not doing it more! I’m thankful for Dr. Horrell for offering Scripture memorization as extra credit and curating a list of Scriptures for us to memorize for his courses.

Read John Piper’s post Why Memorize Scripture? to get more insight on this valuable discipline. Consider purchasing the Navigators Topical Memory System here.

This post first appeared at Joey’s blog and is posted here with his permission.