I went into seminary bright-eyed. Nothing could go wrong. I would love studying Hebrew and Greek. My classes would be relatively easy because it is Bible school, and I love the Bible. I would soar through the program and be done in no time. A year in, and my eyes are less starry. I dropped Hebrew the first semester, and reality hit me: seminary is not easy. My experience may be different from yours: I am married, I attend an extension center, and I work part-time. However, the lessons I have learned are invaluable and I pray you can glean something from what God has taught me.
Here are some things I wish I'd known before walking into my first seminary class:
1. Spiritual Warfare Will Come
Now, to be sure, we all experience spiritual warfare daily. However, since attending seminary, war is being waged against my heart and mind in the form of busyness, doubts, confusion, and discouragement. I have never had to fight harder for belief, Sabbath rest, and courage to obey. The spiritual resistance I am facing is unlike any I have experienced before.
2. It Is More Than a Financial Sacrifice
I knew seminary would be a financial investment. What I did not give consideration to was the time investment. I spend hours studying, writing, reading, and in class. I have had to say no to friends, no to service opportunities in the Church, no to weekend travel plans. Time is precious and sweet and seminary will take a huge chunk of yours. If God had not called me to this, I would have quit by now!
3. It is a family commitment
This is as much my husband’s master’s degree as it is mine. He has made all of the same sacrifices I have, (except for the writing papers part). When God called me to go to seminary, He was calling Kaleb, too. Kaleb and I both prayerfully accepted God’s call on my life.
So, yes. Seminary is hard, but it is not all bad. Here are some of the benefits to my season in seminary.
1. I Am Being Trained for War
Any athlete or physical trainer will tell you: resistance makes for better strength training. In the war, I learn to fight. I have memorized more Scripture, my prayer life has deepened, my time in the Word has become oxygen, and I am more dependent upon the Spirit, which is never a bad place to be. The resistance has made me stronger. My spiritual muscles are more toned. My endurance is lengthened. On the days where God’s word feels more like a textbook than life, I fight harder. I have learned to wrestle with God.
2. I Am Learning to be a Faithful Steward
I have no choice but to become more diligent and disciplined with my time. I take what little I have and offer it for the greater good of the Kingdom. I think more deeply about my yes’s and no’s, in an effort to only say yes to that which falls under my God-given calling. I have no choice but to steward my time well, a lesson that will serve me for the rest of my life.
3. My Marriage is Being Sanctified
Kaleb has walked this road with me, and my sacrifices are his. Our marriage has been tried in this time to be sure: I’ve been less available, I quit my job to take a much more part-time job, and overall my stress level is a little higher. In these moments we have learned to love more patiently and sacrificially. It has taken understanding and abundant grace, but I have never felt more loved, encouraged, or believed in than I do in this season of marriage.
Seminary comes in a package with both gifts and trials. It is not for the faint of heart, but for those who are called, seminary is a gift full of grit and grace.
Jordan Wilkes is a NOBTS student at the North Georgia Extension Center. You can follow her at http://www.apainfulpeace.com or on Instagram @jordan.wilkes.