Dear Seminarian: Four Lessons For Seminary Students Part Three

Posted On August 14, 2014

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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Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailIf 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: Foster Teachability and Repentance

Two critical characteristics of the spiritually formed pastor are teachability and repentance. A pastor must exhibit a spirit of teachability in every area of his life. He must have a listener’s ear to those who cover him, have authority, and speak truth into His life. A pastor is a fallen man like any other. He will be confronted with his sin in the pastorate. Therefore it is critical that he fosters a heart of teachability and repentance before he ever preaches a sermon in a pulpit. Here are three ways a future pastor may foster teachability and repentance in his life during seminary.

1. Meet regularly with a professor for mentorship.

Carefully identify a professor each year to meet with. Kindly invite him to have a regular meeting with you at least every other week but weekly is preferred. Make sure to treat the professor and make room for this meeting in your budget. Share with the professor what you desire to learn in seminary. Ask for wisdom on how to grow or learn in these areas. Confess your fears about ministry. Ask him about the lessons he learned or is learning in pastoral ministry. Now this assumes that you are meeting with a professor who has pastoral ministry experience. Sadly, this is becoming rare in seminary education. At the top of my criteria for meeting with a prof would include that the prof has pastoral experience.

2. Listen to your pastor more than you tell him how his church needs to change. 

Reread that sentence. Don’t laugh or smirk. Don’t be smug. Stereotypes about seminary students are what they are for a reason. Many pastors who fill a pulpit in Dallas await every fall to see a smug, gangly, clean shaven, business professional guy sitting on the front row with a Bible out, preferably an NA28, which he has no idea how to read, and a notepad and pen in hand ready to deconstruct the sermon. Those pastors look forward to that moment just after the sermon, when this young, ambitious, future pastor introduces himself and lets the pastor know that he is an incoming seminary student looking for a church to serve. These pastors look forward to this because they enjoy seeing the process of how God humbles that man over the course of four years. They treasure the opportunity to pour into that young man from seasoned experience and perseverance in the ministry. There is a sense in which the greenieness of the young fellow rubs onto the worn pastor and refreshes him with a new zeal for rigorous academic study and innovative approaches to ministry.

Take advantage of this new friendship by being eager to listen to this man and speak less. Ask him many questions about his experiences in pastoral ministry. Request to shadow him on pastoral visits and counseling sessions. Beg to sit in on elder meetings if possible. I will go so far as to say don’t give your churchs’ leaders input on how you think things should be until they ask you to provide your input. Rather, ask them over and over what they see in you. Ask them what they think your gifting is. Ask about your blind sides or your perceived dark side. Ask them what they think about your emotional quotient. Learn the etiquette of a pastor and his family. Unfortunately, these are all areas that you rarely find instruction on while receiving a seminary education.

3. Find a few godly men who are neither pastors or seminary students to speak truth into your life. 

Have a few relationships outside of school or church leadership that sharpen you. Be vulnerable with these men. Meet with them regularly; hope that they’re older; hope that they’ll treat you to compensate with your meetings with a prof; hope to get to play a little golf. : )

You’ll treasure these relationships if you foster them. These men will have wisdom about godly character and manhood beyond your imagining. They will keep you grounded so that you’ll be able to relate to “normal” people. Too many seminarians surround themselves with nothing but other seminarians and they have trouble re-assimilating to the world post-seminary. Doing life with these men will offer you an opportunity to practice teachability and repentance. These men will not hesitate to be frank with you, and you will have to decide how well you’ll receive their input. These are the type of men that will be giving you input for the rest of your life.

Anytime you are in community with others, you possess the opportunity to model penitence. Walk with regret and sorrow for your sin. Confess it often among brothers. Choke out sin in community and walk by the spirit with these men.

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

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