I’m not originally from New Orleans. But through a strange turn of events, God led me here, and has taught me so much through seminary and now pastoral ministry. A big part of that was my time on campus at NOBTS. God used that to shape me, humble me, and clarify the ministry he has for me.
Here are five lessons I learned during seminary—lessons I pray will help you, too.
1) Don’t Compare Seasons
One of the things that I struggled with after I graduated seminary, was how different the next season I was stepping into looked. Personally, I had a great seminary experience and had some incredible friends and community. Although I knew that I didn’t want to stay in seminary forever, I also knew that this next season had some uncertainties. Sometimes different can feel like bad, but often, it’s not. Sometimes, different is exactly what we need. Life is full of seasons, and each season looks different for a reason. Try not to compare seasons.
2) Keep moving
It can be tempting to cling to the “good times.” For me, I remember the good times growing up, high school, college, post college and then seminary. There is nothing wrong with having good times, but good times are also awaiting us in the next season too! Every time a chapter wraps up in our lives, we have to embrace the next one and shift our focus towards it. Being in pastoral ministry after seminary has been a whirlwind. And sometimes very difficult. As much as I enjoyed seminary, I’ve seen the blessing from continuing to move forward.
3) Seminary isn’t everything
I’ve learned very quickly that there are some things that you only learn to do by experience. Seminary taught me a lot, but it didn’t teach me everything. That’s not a knock on seminary education. I actually think that that isn’t such a bad thing. Seminary helps lay a solid foundation for us. Being in the classroom is not the final spot for those of us who are pastoring churches and leading people. The classroom should be a launching pad into the practical application. So treat seminary for what it is: a time of focused learning.
4) With learning comes humility
Humility can be a struggle in seminary, because we are constantly learning and growing our theological knowledge. But the struggle doesn’t stop after seminary. As more opportunities come and people look to you for leadership and guidance, it’s easy to stop being humble. The truth is, none of us ever fully arrive. There is always more to learn from those around us. The people in our churches will respect and trust us more when we serve them and the Lord with humility.
5) Be thankful
The last thing that I want to do is take my time in seminary for granted or feel like it may have been in vain. Many in ministry wish that they could have a further theological education. It’s a blessing, and it’s good to remember that. I try my best to stay away from a critical and negative attitude, because I know that I’m blessed and fortunate to learn what I did and have the opportunity that I had. If you’re in seminary right now, then the same is true for you. A thankful attitude can take you far.
Matthew Weaver graduated with an MDIV in 2016 and is the Connect Pastor at Vintage Church.