I Have My M.Div

Surreal. That’s really the only word that comes to mind. This evening, after family and friends had left and I’d had a little time to unwind by watching this week’s episodes of “Community,” “The Office,” and “Fringe,” I sat on the couch with my wife and realized that I really am done with the M.Div. I’ve spent the last four years working towards this degree and today all that work came to its conclusion. Surreal. Relieved. Grateful. Incredibly blessed.

Seminary was a war of attrition for me. There were times when I was deep in the bowels of a Greek or Hebrew class where I felt like failure was imminent. I am not good at the Biblical languages at all. Still, God was faithful in my weakness and saw me through the 22 hours of Biblical languages that I took in seminary.

Seminary was a challenge because I got tired of seminary people. I really don’t want to spend all of my time with people who get great joy out of debating the finer points of substitutionary atonement or endless Calvinism/Arminianism debates that dominate so much of Baptist academia these days. On my first day of seminary the president of Southwestern told a room full of bright eyed and fresh faced seminary students that they would meet their best friends at seminary. For whatever reason, that was not the case for me. I met the best friends of my seminary years in Sunday School. Lawyer, Accountant, and Film Director are the occupations of some of the guys that brought a lot of joy and dead zombies to my life as I was trudging through the doldrums of seminary. I also came to appreciate even more my best friends from my college years. You guys know who you are and your support and friendship over the time and distance since finishing up at OBU has been a great blessing.

Did I learn a lot in seminary? Yes, I did. Did I buy a lot of great books that I can use for decades to come? Oh yeah, I’ve got the beginnings of a fine theological library. Did I grow in my faith? Not at first. I went through a pretty hefty spiritual dry spell early in seminary. That changed dramatically in the last 18 months as my wife and I faced the possibility of being unable to have kids only to witness God’s miraculous provision. So I guess you could say that my greatest spiritual growth in seminary did not come from classes or chapel services but from witnessing God at work within my own family.

But what were the most important lessons I learned in seminary?

1. Family comes first (after Jesus, of course). There were nights when I had papers to write and verbs to parse but Laura needed to talk after a long day at work. There were times when presentations were demanding attention but it had been awhile since Laura and I went out on date. What is more important? My family. I know guys who would spend all their time and energy studying and would have nothing left to offer their families. That’s not right. I would rather drop a letter grade on a vocab quiz than miss an opportunity to strengthen my relationship with my wife. An M.Div is 3-4 years while a marriage is 6-7 decades. Often seminary happens in the early years of a marriage and it is vital that a spouse not be neglected because a systematic theology book is calling. My first ministry is to my family. It’s good to remember and practice that in seminary.

2. Have friends outside of seminary. As I said before, this was the saving grace of my time in seminary. It’s so nice to have friends who I just do life with and who don’t feel the need to bring up the latest N.T. Wright/John Piper debate on Paul’s theology justification every time I see them. I know not all seminary friends are like that, but it’s nice to have a break from seminary and seminary people because so much of your life is immersed in all things seminary.

So there it is. Another milestone completed. Another mission accomplished. What’s next? Well, I should be an Army National Guard Chaplain in the next month or so. Hopefully sometime before JTK is born I’ll be able to find a ministry position. Until then, I’m going to enjoy a little time off. I’m going to get caught up on some reading (for fun!). I’m going to spend time with my wife. I’m going to buy a Dodge Viper. Okay, that last one is a dream. Maybe someday.


3 thoughts on “I Have My M.Div

  1. Super proud of you and all the hard work you put in. Be proud, yet humble. Be wise and gracious with what you know. As always, continue to love the Lord and serve his people and the lost. Miss you man.

  2. I have been reading, scanning actually, through your reports.
    It does not make any sense to me that it is necessary to have to learn Hebrew and Greek to understand the Scripture. For example. There are plenty of people who learn to speak and write Hebrew and Greek as their native languages. If it is necessary to be semi-fluent in these languages to understand the Bible then those who are fluent in them as their native tongues they should be excellent at biblical interpretation as a natural consequence, but they are not. Regarding that interpretation of the Bible and teaching it are spiritual gifts that cannot be sold nor purchased. I think it is more than likely true that you have fallen for a confidence swindle. While it is prestigious to hold advanced socialistic degrees to be acceptable to mankind’s standards. This natural effort of attainment does not arrive at conclusions when observed that the conclusions will meet God’s approval.

    1. Mr. Jones,
      With all due respect, your comment shows a great level of ignorance.

      1. Biblical Greek and Biblical Hebrew are dead languages. There are major differences between them and their modern counterparts so those who speak the modern languages would not be able to just pick up a Greek or Hebrew Bible and read it.

      2. You don’t have to know Greek or Hebrew to read and understand the Bible. There are many good translations that make it possible for native English speakers to read an accurate translation of God’s word.

      3. Being able to read the Bible, or at least have a basic understanding of the original languages, opens doors for the study of God’s word that otherwise would not have been open.

      4. Studying the Bible in seminary does not make me “acceptable to mankinds standards.” People go to seminary because they understand that God’s word is so deep and vast that they humbly submit to teachers who have devoted their entire lives to accurately interpreting Scripture and teaching others to do the same.

      5. Do you have to go to seminary to understand Scripture? No. The Holy Spirit is magnificent in that way. Still, studying the Bible in college and seminary will give a person a breadth of knowledge that they would not have had before. Things like the original languages, historical background, cultural background, church history, archaeology, etc.

      6. People don’t go to seminary for God’s approval. They go because God has called them to ministry and they want to have the best training possible because delivering God’s message of salvation to the world is a task not to be undertaken lightly and which an education can prove of great value.

      You need to rethink your biases and preconceived notions about seminary and the people who attend them. The vast majority are there simply because they want to be able to serve God and understand his word to the fullest extent possible.

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