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Lessons learned from my first year at Southeastern Seminary

May 23, 2008

It’s hard to believe, but as I finished my Old Testament II final on Wednesday I also finished my first year of seminary. It has been a wonderful and rewarding experience which has far exceeded Megan and I’s expectations. Here’s just some quick thoughts on different things I’ve learned or experienced after my first year…

In the past year I completed classes such as Hermeneutics, Greek I and II, Evangelism, and Theology I. I would say that almost every class has been great, with each professor adding their own twist to the class through their unique personalities. Top professors for the last year have been Dr. Akin (hermeneutics), Dr. Black (Greek I, II and NT II), and Dr. Reid (Evangelism).

I will probably stay away from the “practical” classes for my last two years (by practical I mean classes like counseling, pastoral ministry, etc). It’s not that they aren’t rewarding, but I’ve found that seminary is a place to learn things that you could never learn on your own. I found that I probably could have learned as much about counseling by just reading the books that were assigned. If you’re serving in a good church you should be learning the practical aspect of ministry there, which will save your seminary electives for classes like the languages.

I came into seminary being strongly discouraged from pursuing anything in the field of apologetics. In the past year I didn’t take anything within Christian philosophy because of it, but I have found that my love for apologetics has crept back! In the summer I will be taking a class with Dr. Norman Geisler (more on this later) on Christianity in relation to the other world religions, and in the fall I will take two classes with Dr. Bruce Little: Christian Philosophy and Critical Thinking & Argumentation.

Megan and I could be anywhere two years from now. We came in thinking that we were willing to go anywhere or do anything, but we weren’t (at least I wasn’t). Many professors here are “afflictors of the comfortable,” and they challenge you to look beyond the U.S. to find your place of ministry. Megan and I talk about this often, and we look forward to see where the Lord takes us.

The consistent piece of advice I received coming in was to take professors, not classes. They were right – a class is made or broken by its teacher.

Who would have thought that I would enjoy Greek? I’m on to my third semester this summer…

Half of the education in seminary is interaction with the other students. That’s why I strongly feel that being a full-time, on-campus student is a huge advantage, and should be chosen (if possible) over online courses. You hear what people are reading, thinking, experiencing, and who they listen to (sermons).

For the last 18 months Megan has been encouraging me to pursue my PhD after finishing seminary. For the last 14 months or so I strongly disagreed, but am feeling more and more called to continuing my education after graduating from Southeastern. I’m hesitant about this, because I want to make sure this isn’t a pride thing, but as of now I see this as a likely next step.

I’m so thankful to be at a “Great Commission” seminary. I had many hesitations about coming to a “confessional seminary”, but I am so thankful that we came to Southeastern. God has used it to change me substantially, and developed my heart for the nations.

That’s all for now, and if I think of more I’ll post them as they come to me…

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