Every year the school year brings new excitement, shopping trips, and new worries about the demands of new classes. Leading up to the faithful day are days of clothes shopping, binder buying, and pen testing. There are book lists to fret over, teachers to dread, and last minute summer activities to squeeze into the schedule. All in all, the transition into a new school is really exciting for the whole family. With all of the excitement, it is only a little embarrassing that all of this fuss is about daddy, the 29 year old, well-employed pastor. I am starting school next week.
Whenever I tell people in my congregation that I, a pastor, am continuing to go to school to learn to be a pastor I usually hear one of two responses. Some people rejoice in the value of education in general and commend me for pursuing it, and others, who voice exactly what is on their minds, simply ask why. As I prepare to start my new semester, I want to take a minute and answer the latter response.
I have four primary reasons that I choose to continue my theological education.
- I want my mind to stay sharp. Your mind is like a muscle. Stop using it and it gets weaker – quickly! Just as ten pound barbells cannot create heavy lifters, trivial thoughts cannot create deep thinkers. Scholastic education loads your mind with heavy weights to be used for exercise throughout all your life.
- I know how little I know. I was once tempted to step out of my education because many people pointed out that lots of pastors do just fine without a formal education. And I agree with them. But then I saw the syllabus for my upcoming Greek class. Looking at what I was to learn in one course during one semester showed me how little I know about what I am supposed to explain with expertise every Sunday for the rest of my life, the Bible. If I stopped now, I would be like the two year old excited to hear a train whistle, never thinking to go investigate the train itself.
- I need the discipline education provides. Have you ever seen the movie Rudy? It is an awesome story about a young man with no great physical prowess attempting to make the Notre Dame football team during their glory years. Rudy was smaller, weaker, and slower than other guys on the team, but his determination and dogged pursuit of his goal eventually made him a hero to his entire school. When I think of becoming more disciplined, I think of Rudy, but not because I think I can be like Rudy and persevere. Instead, I think of Rudy because I identify with Bob. You don’t know Bob because he went to Notre Dame and tried to play football and failed. I am the Bob of discipline. It just isn’t happening. I don’t think God has gifted me with what it takes to become that incredibly disciplined guy I wish I was, but my education steadily moves me towards a more disciplined life in the future. With hard work, lots of deadlines, and a teacher I pay for, I am on my way to achieving intramural level discipline to the Glory of God!
- God wants me to love Him with my mind. This final reason holds the greatest significance in my mind and heart as I daily wake up to study at 5am or send money to my school which would be helpful to use around the house. I think I will spend a lifetime discovering what it means to love God with my heart, soul, mind, and strength, but I am fairly confident that applying my mind to the depths and intricacies of the faith communicates worshipful affection to the object of my faith. For that reason, His glory, I am joyful at the start of each new semester.