Before I came to Seminary I was a big fish in a little pond. In my hometown I was spiritual for my age, and I was already working at the church. I had no problem in any theological debate, and really, there weren’t many to be had in my small town. In that way, I didn’t have much practice using all the of “big” theological words and ideas that I learned in my undergraduate school.
It has been something of a difficult transition because of all of that. I am getting into the kinds of theological debates that I just haven’t been in for a while. In my hometown, if there is a theological question, it was usually directed at me. I was used to having all the answers because everyone was throwing me soft and easy pitches. I could handle hitting all of them out of the park.
I liken it to someone who was the star in their small-school theater performances, now off at theater school where everyone was the best performer at their high-school plays. I have never had to fight to get a word in. Here, everyone is on the track to being a pastor. Everyone here is a natural born leader and they are just as excited to state their opinion as you are.
All of this draws out insecurities that I didn’t even know that I had. I am questioning my intelligence, my capabilities in leading, and whether or no I really am special and have any kind of gifting at all.
So, what do we do with all of that? How do we deal with these insecurities that will inevitably pop up if you’re used to being “the guy” and now… You’re just another student, just another person trying to do Seminary?
Well, I can tell you what has helped for me. In my group of friends, my cohort, I’ve brought up how very important it is for each of us to learn to listen. We are all talkers, we are all leaders, we would all prefer to just take the ball, never pass, and shoot the off-balance jumper.
But in ministry we need to be listeners. We need to learn from each other. This is such a great place for me to learn to be O.K. with being uncomfortable, and out of my element. I need to be O.K. with being a listener.
We are used to answering every question at Bible study because everyone else is sitting there without an answer. We are used to sprinkling all of our conversations with mini-sermons because if we don’t talk about faith, who will? So I want to challenge you today, if you’re looking into seminary, or if you’re already there and feeling out of place.
We need to become used to being in an uncomfortable place. We will learn in that kind of environment. We will be better leaders one day, if we can learn to be better helpers, and servants, and listeners today.
By Nate Roschen, Small Town Pastor / Denver Seminary Student / Blog: overproportionate.blogspot.com