Many of the posts here on GTS have pointed out that seminary students realize during their academic career just how starved they were for formal training. Even students who were reared in church all their lives have commented on how little they actually knew about the richness in God’s Word that can be discovered by learning new study methods or language principles.
That’s where leaving a legacy for someone else can be so important. Many of our young men and women coming up in our churches as the leaders of tomorrow may feel that they do not have time for seminary. Many men and women who are answering or hearing God’s call later in their lives may feel that they do not have time either. The fact is, though, that they are just as in need of solid training as those taking a more traditional academic track.
It is also worthy to note that with the multiple options available today due to technology that there is very little reason that someone can’t further their education in at least some fashion. There are classes available for little to no cost at most denominational associations. There are online studies and blogs that lend themselves to students and learners who wish to enhance and deepen their biblical knowledge. And there are a growing number of seminaries that are increasing the online availability of their content so people can take classes without uprooting their lives.
So how is this at all related to a legacy? It’s easy “ we need to, as seminary students and graduates, convey to others the richness we have realized as a result of our formal training. Here are a few simple steps that will help you leave a legacy that will go beyond the degree you receive in seminary.
1. Work to dispel the myth that seminary is not needed. Sure — seminary to some may seem like a waste of time and money. And certainly I have experienced classes that seem to be less useful in ministry than others I have taken. But I have yet to take a class that offered nothing to me in light of my ministry calling. All of the classes I have taken have given me at least a portion of insight that I did not have before taking them. Your opinion of the value of seminary may be the qualifier that someone is looking for to go ahead and take the first step toward enrollment.
2. There is no such thing as ‘when I have time!’ If we all waited until we had time to do that ‘next thing’ in our lives “ we would NEVER get to them. Ministry is just as demanding, if not more, than any other vocation. And since we are focused on matters that are spiritual, it can be easy to drop in to a belief of ‘I can’t spend time on my training because my ministry will suffer.’ The truth of the matter is that ministry will be enhanced by further training. Helping ministers realize that they will be a more effective by pursuing training may be the gentle nudge they need to readjust their priorities and make time for seminary.
3. It doesn’t have to be ‘all or nothing.’ Some people will know right-off-the-bat that they will not be able to complete any type of seminary degree. They will either not have all of the resources to pay for it or they will convince themselves that they just do not have the time to do it. But they can take at least one course or two every year. Be the voice of reason for someone by telling them that even though they may not be able to complete an entire degree “ they can take a class or two here and there that will help them be more effective in ministry. This will allow them to focus on classes that are specific to their ministry focus and will allow them to be exposed to the seminary process. Who knows “ they might even find a way to give more time to their training and pursue more creative avenues for paying for it.
4. If you can “ put your money where your mouth is. It is no secret that the academic community has been just as affected by the current economic situation as other companies and institutions. The tragedy here, though, is that the value of their impact on the spiritual pulse of our nations and world is very significant as their training impacts the ministers of our nation and world. If you know of someone who needs to be pursuing seminary in some fashion and you are able to do so “ offer to pay for a portion of his or her classes or for all of them. If you do not have that capability, use some of the resources you found for yourself when paying for seminary to help persons push their creative boundaries for resourcing their schooling. Your investment will leave a more significant mark on their lives and the lives they will touch for God’s Kingdom than any Greek organization.