By Brenda L. Thomas
Adjunct Faculty, College of Theology
About 20 years ago, one of my classmates asked me, “Why are you in seminary?”
I was in a seminary class comprised mostly of pastors who had been in ministry for years or even decades and others who were training to potentially become pastors. I fit neither of those scenarios. I may have even been the only female in the class, but I honestly don’t remember. I was the epitome of the Sesame Street song, “One of These Things is Not Like the Others,” so it was difficult to not notice my presence.
A seasoned pastor, who maybe was old enough to be my father, came up to me during a break time in the hours-long class and asked, “Why are you in seminary?” Then, he quickly added something to the effect of: “And don’t say it is because you want to know more about the Bible.”
I chuckled a bit and then responded that I indeed did want to know more about the Bible.
At the time, I had no definite plans or goals for what I could or would do with a seminary degree. All I knew was that I enjoyed studying the Bible and desired to learn more. What I also discovered in my seminary years was that the more I studied the Bible, the more I realized how much I did not know about the Bible, which further fueled my desire to learn more.
What my classmate was getting at was that he wanted to know what job, career or ministry I intended to have with my seminary degree. I don’t fault him for asking and I actually think it was good that he did challenge me with that question. As you can tell by this blog post, I still think about his question today.
Perhaps you know exactly what your goals and plans are regarding your seminary degree. Or, perhaps you are like I was and simply don’t know. In either case, it’s important to keep in mind that your plans might not work out the way you want them to. Your plans might change due to circumstances beyond your control, or presently unclear goals might become clearer many years post seminary. Whatever the case may be, your seminary training is valuable for today and tomorrow.
I know that some of my former seminary classmates who were pastors or who desired to be pastors are presently not pastors. They did not know then that would be their situation now. For me, I never envisioned 20 years ago where I would be and what I would be doing today. We simply cannot foresee our futures. However, I have never once regretted those years I spent completing a seminary degree.
Countless times and in countless ways I have used what I learned in seminary and continue to do so today. Knowing more about God and His Word is never a futile endeavor. Of course, seminary is not the only way or place for that to occur, but if that is where you are today or will be in the future, it is an amazing opportunity to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The next time someone asks you (or maybe you ask yourself) why you are in seminary, answer honestly and with an open heart to follow God wherever He might lead you after seminary.
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More About Brenda Thomas:
Brenda Thomas has been an online adjunct faculty member at GCU since 2015. She has two Master of Arts degrees: one in biblical studies and the other in humanities. In addition to teaching, Brenda is a freelance writer of articles on topics pertaining to the Bible or history – and often both in the same article. She and her husband have been blessed with two children.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.