I Wish I Had Not Gone To Seminary
Union Theological Seminary
I graduated from Virginia State University in Petersburg, VA in 1968 with a B.A. degree in English and Literature. In 1998, exactly 30 years later I graduated from the Presbyterian School of Christian Education and Union Theological Seminary with a dual master's degree in Christian Education and Divinity. However, I wish I had not gone to seminary.
I was teaching at a community college in 1994 when I heard God loud and clear telling me to cast my net on the other side of the boat. Because Jesus had used Peter's boat to teach from, I knew what Jesus meant. That very day I dropped my textbooks and lesson plans. I enrolled in seminary for a two-year program after I heard that directive from God. However, after two years, I was still hungry and thirsty for more, so I continued for two more years for an additional degree.
An Apple A Day
Having no money saved for seminary and no sponsors, by faith I attended seminary full time for four years. For four years I did not get a paycheck, and I had no one to depend on except God. I knew what I was doing was an investment into my future. After all, God had given me instructions to do what I was doing. This meant burning the mid-night oil. This meant being an outcast in the eyes of my family and friends. This meant focusing on reading and studying and writing and not much of anything else. This meant surviving sometimes on just an apple a day.
I remember having taken Greek over the summer months. I didn't sleep much for six consecutive weeks. The course was so intense that I remember coming home from class one day and started studying immediately. Before I knew it, it was time to go back to school the next day. I had studied all night and did not see that day had turned into night and night into day without me recognizing the change because I was doing some serious studying.
"Who Is Jesus?"
I wish I hadn't gone to seminary even though I remember taking a theology course and I had to write a paper on "Who is Jesus?" In the paper I said I believe when I see Jesus He would look just like me based on 1 John 3:2 that says, "Beloved, now we like sons of God and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."
- Mistakes Preachers Make In The Pulpit
Preachers are humans. Therefore, they make mistakes too. However, it becomes a concern when preachers continue to make the same mistakes over and over while preaching in the pulpit.
I took a preaching course where I learned to prepare and serve the Lord's Supper.Then I remember doing just that on Mount Nebo in 1997 when I took a traveling course to the Middle East visiting Jordan, Egypt, and Israel. Every time since then whenever I serve Holy Communion I remember my first time on Mt. Nebo looking out on the promised land that God show Moses but told him he couldn't enter in.
In that same preaching course, I wrote a paper on marriage and weddings. My profound concept that the Holy Spirit gave me was to write how the bride belongs to no one from the time her father gives her away until the groom accepts her as his wife. During that short period, she neither belongs to her father nor to the groom. That, to me, is the saddest part of any wedding.
- The Real Meaning of the Book of Job
Most people would think Job had it made. But the story isn’t about what Job had and what he lost. It is about what he learned through his suffering. While it is true that suffering is a major theme in the Book of Job, suffering is not the real meanin
Course About Job
One whole semester I studied the Book of Job. The professor gave the students a choice of studying it in the original Hebrew or in English. Even though I had two semesters of Hebrew I opted to take the course in English where the class focused on the real meaning of the Book of Job. Most people focus on what Job lost, but it is more to the book than that. The real meaning is not the suffering of Job but the sovereignty of God. At the end of the book, Job received double what he had lost after he prayed for his friends.
I remember having taken a group processing course that changed my life. I had to share my personal life in a support group setting. So much stuff came out of me that I cried on my way home many times after those sessions.
I took a who course of the Pauline Epistles where I learn everything Paul wrote and why he wrote it. Since then, I have taught the books Paul wrote dozens of times.
While in seminary I learned Ignatius of Loyola's Lectio Divina which is Latin for divine spiritual reading, or "holy reading." It represents the practice of prayer and scriptural reading that promotes communion with God and helps one establish a deep relationship with God through the knowledge of His word. I became disciplined to study, ponder, listen, pray, sing and rejoice from God's word within my soul. To this day, I still use this method.
Graduating After Four Years
I wish I had not gone to seminary because I was ready to graduate in May 1998 just two months from my 53rd birthday and I had no job. What was I going to do now? I had devoted four years of my life studying and what was I to do with all that studying.?
Having so much biblical and theological knowledge had prepared me to become a Christian educator, but it was extremely difficult to find a job in my field. I had done an independent study where I had designed a Bible School to teach others what I had been taught.
Soon after graduating, I put my directive study into fruition, and The Way of Life Spiritual Development Center in Partnership with Oral Roberts University was started. The rest is history with having trained hundred of people who have gone into ministry. Many have become pastors, and most of them work in some capacity in their own churches and in the Kingdom of Go
I still wish I had not gone to seminary. Why?
If I had not gone to seminary, I could look forward to going now. That experience is behind me. Had I not gone, the experience would be something to look forward to.
Seminary Changed My Life
I thank God for my seminary experience. It changed my life to be in the position I'm in today to teach others what I have learned. I recommend seminary to those who want to learn about the things I have mentioned in this article. Seminary changed my life, and it can change yours too!
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