Today’s article was written by graduating M.Div student Matthew Wireman who blogs at Off The Wire. This is part 1 of 2. Look for the conclusion of this article next week. Be sure to subscribe to our feed or get Said At Southern updates via email.
One of the blessings I have had is spending a monthly time together with Dr Stuart Scott and some other seminarians. One day another student asked, “How do you all keep from becoming stagnant in your faith while you’re doing in-depth studying at an amazing pace of volume?“ Each of us shared some things we do to keep from being ineffective in our faith. Here are those tips, with some commentary. If you have the time, I’d love to hear some things you might suggest. Perhaps you’re not in seminary and you just have some good words of wisdom for us that are in such studies.
I am no fool. I know that myriads of people who are working full-time find it very hard to press into the Lord. Inertia in the Christian life too often pulls us back when we come up against Satan, the flesh, and the world. As I finish my last week of class in my MDiv studies and look toward PhD work, I hope to implement more of these ideas in my life.
How To Stifle The Seminary Virus
- Take time to read what’s in the parentheses when you’re reading a book. That is, when there is a verse reference, turn in the Bible and read. This may take time and seminary requires that we get a lot of books read, but when you find that rare time…chew on the reading.
- At the end of the day write what application is learned from your studies. Some questions you can journal through are: 1. What did I read today? 2. What did they teach? 3. What did I learn that was new? 4. What do these things demand of me? 5. How have I not come under these truths over the past year? 6. How will this benefit someone who is struggling in his faith? (i.e. assurance, problem of evil, loss of a loved one . . .)
- Pray before, during, and after studies. This one is very obvious – so why don’t we do it more?
- Ask yourself: “What kind of paper can I write that would minister to someone in my future congregation?” That is, if you are writing on the Problem of Evil think about how the conclusion of your paper would be applicable to the hurting widow. Think about how God’s sovereignty can minister practically to your people. Think through the implications of total depravity for how you will do ministry.
- Remind yourself that you must learn and not merely memorize. One of my pet peeves is when a student asks a professor what they should study for the test. What a travesty! A future pastor is more concerned about making an ‘A’ on an exam rather than having done the hard work throughout the semester of learning the arguments and texts that support their theology.
Have we given into the academy? Do we wrongly equate letters with knowledge? The doubting Thomas sitting in front of you is not going to care if you got an A- or a B+ on your last paper. What he will care about is whether you can persuade him right now. Regurgitation does not mean you have learned, dear seminarian. True wisdom will be manifest in your journal when you answer questions from point #2.
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– posted by Matthew Wireman