Spring weather means graduation is coming, ushering in a season of new beginnings for students finishing high school, college, and graduate school. After three years of seminary, I'm a master of divinity. At least that's what the diploma will say. Supposedly I'm now prepared to enter full-time pastoral ministry. If anything, I'm increasingly aware of how much I don't yet know about God, his Word, and shepherding his flock. Maybe that's a healthy place to be.
That said, seminary has been an invaluable time of study and reflection. God has laid a foundation of learning that will support me through what I hope will be decades of faithful ministry, if he tarries. At the outset of this adventure, I benefited from the advice of wise pastors and seminarians who counseled me in how to make the most of this time of preparation. I heeded their charge to settle in a local church and invest myself in congregational ministry, immediately applying what I learned. I grew attached to a few professors who made time for students and cared sincerely about my spiritual and academic development. And I resisted the temptation to expect that a few hours of class per week over the course of a semester could teach me everything I needed to know about systematic theology, biblical Hebrew, or counseling.
A new book edited by Andrew J. B. Cameron and Brian S. Rosner, The Trials of Theology: Becoming a ‘Proven' Worker in a Dangerous Business, captures much of this advice. Both Cameron and Rosner teach at Moore Theological College in Sydney, Australia, where John W. Woodhouse is principal. Woodhouse's contribution to the book, an essay on "The Trials of Theological College," elaborates on some of the most important lessons I learned in seminary.
Most importantly, ...