I'll digress from my normal thinking today to reflect for a moment on preparation for ministry. To all regular non-ministry readers, thank you for the indulgence.
I'm 15 years removed from pursuing my MDiv. degree at seminary. Technically 13, since I graduated in 2000. But I took only a couple of hours that last semester, having had 2 years off while we got the Queen through graduate school. My graduating class was 1998. So 15 it is. Anyway...
Consider this the Convocation Speech that I'll probably never give. Here's what I'd tell incoming seminary students if they'd listen to me...
1. Your character matters more than your calling and certainly more than your grades.
2. Your character will certainly show up as you exercise your calling and in your grades.
3. If you think seminary will be a source of spiritual growth, you're wrong. If you grow from your seminary experience, the primary reason you will be because you persevere faithfully.
4. Being rooted in a church will do your soul more good and more for your growth than any book you read.
5. It'd be better for you to work a "secular" job and figure out people and service than it would to work at a church in your first year or two of seminary.
6. Your professors will do more to shape you outside the classroom than inside. So if they're willing (and the majority are), stop by with a cup of coffee and two good questions to ask.
7. Openness of mind and engagement with ideas does not mean you have to cede ground on your convictions. You're not stupid, arrogant, or lazy if you hold some convictions with a large helping of humble certainty.
But that's just me thinking thoughts...