I graduated Friday. {Insert Euphoria Here} It was a festive experience filled with smiling faces, long black robes, not to mention some very happy parents/wives/children.

As Barry Benson (the lead character in Bee Movie) amusingly noted, “there was a lot of pomp, considering the circumstances.”

My time in seminary, especially these more recent years in the  doctoral program, has been a tidal wave of learning. Much of it was the kind of structured, classroom-specific teacher-to-student transfer of information that we normally think of when we think of school. Some of the most valuable lessons that I learned, however, were gleaned apart from the classroom (or, better yet, despite the classroom).

I know that, in our church, we have an above average number of students, higher education professors, as well as potential seminary candidates. While everyone may enjoy these nuggets-o-wisdom, I hope that those of you among us laboring in the fields of education (whether you are the professor-farmer or the student-field) will appreciate and benefit from these observations from my own experience.

Certainly, it is not exhaustive, but if I had to boil down my years in seminary to just a few bullet-point thoughts, here they are. Enjoy.

 

  • Reading books about the Bible is good; but it is no replacement for reading the Bible itself.

 

  • Education is always preferable to ignorance. (Though I can think of maybe one or two exceptions to that rule.)

 

  • It is unfair to expect a seminary or a degree to accomplish what only the Holy Spirit can do within you.

 

  • If you cheat on an assignment in seminary (or Bible college), failing the class is the LEAST of your problems. (I knew a few students who did. Very sad indeed.)

 

  • The best motivation for finishing strong in school is a supportive wife at your side and anxious children clammoring at your feet.
  • Many of the best Christian books ever written have been out of print for 100 years or more. (“I’m looking at you Pilgrim’s Progress!”)
  • ¬†Seminary is an excellent place to worship yourself while you fool others into thinking you are worshipping Jesus. Be careful!

 

  • The best professors will not merely give you the right answers, they will help you ask the right questions.

 

  • For maximum success in higher education, learn to write tight.

 

  • Theologians can teach us some very lively truths.

 

  • Dead theologians can also teach us some very lively truths.

 

  • Dead Baptist theologians can especially teach us some very lively truths.

 

  • Whether the issue is worship or preaching, the adage remains true: style is no replacement for substance.

 

  • After studying Greek and Hebrew, I am more convinced than ever that we have many excellent English translations of the Bible.

 

  • Warmhearted, Christ-loving professors teach as much with their lives as their mouths.

 

  • Proud-hearted, Christ-dishonoring professors teach as much with their lives as their mouths too.

 

  • When it is done right, seminary is designed to complement the work of the church, not replace it.

 

For what it’s worth, those are my reflections. Hope you enjoy!