Advice to Seminary Students

**This post was originally posted on the Women’s Life Blog August 26, 2016

I was eyes bright, with a steady assurance that I had a firm grasp on reality (or so I thought). With a recent college diploma hanging on my apartment wall, I was ready to take on the world without a doubt in my mind that I was fully adult. Opinions were strong and perspective settling as I made my way to my first “real” job and grad school.

Through a series of unplanned events (which is a story for a different post), I found myself at seminary where like my personality, opinions were strong and right and wrong clearly defined.

This season was a sweet one. I loved my coworkers like family, found a church, and planted roots. Still so young and fresh (despite believing otherwise), seminary was like a coming of age theologically for me.

And then several years after I added another diploma to my wall and entered the “real” world, suffering hit. All my preconceived ideas about life and what it looked like to be a Jesus follower were re-evaluated. Those theories I learned in seminary were tested in the practicum of life.

Here’s the thing about suffering, when you’ve created a world with clear lines, prevention plans, and a moral code, all those tertiary items fall away and all that is left is your foundation.

Which leads me to this, my advice to you. Your foundation doesn’t need to be in a denomination or a theological idea, it needs to be in Jesus and Him alone. Your foundation isn’t in Calvinism or whether or not you’re pre-trib or post-trib. It’s not in social justice issues, although fighting for justice is noble and good. It’s not even in your take on baptism or how to properly administer the Lord’s supper.

These things are important, but your foundation, the thing you should focus on most during your season at seminary, is falling more in love with Jesus. Get to know him more. Yes, learn all of these great and amazing doctrines, and sure, take a stance and clearly defend it. But take my advice: the Gospel, the good news that Jesus brings, is your only foundation.

Scripture tells us to love the Lord with all our heart, mind and strength. And we seminarians tend to nail the mind and strength part, so my advice to you is focus on your heart. Maybe that means you take fewer classes, perhaps even get a B instead of an A. But at the end of your seminary season, I hope you can walk away with the assurance that you basked in God’s love for you and in return you loved Him BIG. You loved him more than your ideas, more than being right, more than any knowledge you’ve acquired.

Love Jesus.

Love him fiercely and passionately, and out of that love study well to the glory of God. Learn, take stances, be willing to be wrong, learn some more, but love Him. Love Him, because regardless of what you face in life, that love for Jesus can propel you through your highest high and darkest night. It will walk you through your lowest valley and greatest joys. And at the end of your life when you are finished, your love for him (as a result of His love for you) will be the thing that matters most – not how well you did in seminary or how many people you impressed with your polished, well articulated stances.

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16

Brittany is a wife, mother and advocate for adoption. A graduate from Cedarville University, she received her MA in Intercultural Studies from SEBTS in 2011 and her MA in Teaching from NC State in 2012. She writes on faith and family over at www.thesassysalmon.com and when she’s not writing, she enjoys running, eating cheesefries, and spending time with family and friends.
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