Looking back over the last three years, the comment I heard most frequently from collogues and classmates is that seminary does not seem to prepare us for ministry in the “real world.” The degree to which this comment is issued runs the gambit from simple frustration to outright dismissal of the entire seminary experience.
Yes, I too have felt the fatigue that comes from sitting through a lecture or completing an assignment that does not seem to have any application to what I am doing or will be doing in my ministry, but I am hesitant to move from there to proverbially throwing seminary education under the bus.
The PTS extended community of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and families is certainly a diverse group, yet we all probably sense some kind of higher calling, even if the contours of that calling are still being defined. Rather than look at the seminary experience as somehow a pause in the journey to fulfilling that calling, we need realize that the call includes seminary.
Certainly not everything we learned will find neat application. A United Methodist, I probably will not find myself in a discussion of the nuances of language in the Westminster Confession. Walking down the street, no one is likely to run up to me asking for an emergency exegesis. But what these things have provided are experiences of diversity, intellectual challenge, and opportunities for growth that I was able to choose to exploit or dismiss.
God has called us together for this time intentionally, knowing each of our gifts, talents, and flaws. What this means is that yes, for some of us seminary has been a challenge, and for some of us it has been a breeze. For some our length of stay is short, and for others it is a bit longer.
Our calls and our means of achieving those calls are as diverse of each of us. Yet for all of us we were called to this place for the time we have been here, to experience exactly what we have experienced, and to be exposed to exactly what we have been exposed to. Seminary is not vocational training, as much as it is a laboratory for growth—spiritual, intellectual, interpersonal, and personal. It is not a hammer or screwdriver—a tool meant for a specific task—but rather a Swiss Army knife, a hodgepodge of seemingly unrelated things which we can carry around with us at all times to use in a variety of ways.
So, the road from here is very much like the road to here. We continue to follow our calls from God, we continue to grow, but much like the seminary experience, which for me will end on May 31st, what we choose to do with it—whether it is wasted or useful—is very much up to us.
Anthony Hita, Senior M.Div Student