Currently, I’m a full-time stay-at-home mom raising three children. I run errands, cook meals, and sometimes (if my family’s particularly lucky) I do laundry. I’m more likely to pick up Legos than I am to pick up a theological text, and most of my conversations revolve around the importance of coffee more than the importance of women in the world of theology.
But every now and then, one of my friends will find out I went to seminary. Inevitably, they’ll want to know why. It’s a good question, one with a beautiful story of how God moved, called, and led. But sitting here now, surrounded by the beautiful mess of ordinary life, I think the better—and perhaps more important—question is whether I’m glad I went.
You see, to the casual observer I have nothing to show for my degree. I’m not a pastor, not a famous writer, not teaching classes, not even leading a Bible study. I’m just . . . me. I have a small blog, and sometimes I speak at women’s events. I raise my kids, follow God, and have no idea what the next step will be. I may not look like someone who has a seminary degree, but I can tell you this, I’m so glad I have one.
I may not look like someone who has a seminary degree, but I can tell you this, I’m so glad I have one.
As a busy mom, I’m glad I went to seminary for five reasons.
1. Greater knowledge of God.
The first reason may seem obvious, but it needs to be said: Going to seminary deepened my knowledge of God and his Word. You cannot sit under incredibly gifted professors, read many of history’s most theologically astute minds, and discuss topics of faith with other students without learning something. In my case, I learned a ton.
2. Deeper walk with God.
Despite what many incoming students think, this one isn’t guaranteed. Reading, studying, and attending lectures does not equal a deeper walk with the Lord. In fact, it can lead to just the opposite. Reading about God can sometimes trick you into thinking you’ve spent time with God.
That said, it’s possible to allow the new knowledge draw you into deeper love for the Lord. Being in seminary taught me the importance of loving him with my mind. After all, he calls us to be people who study his ways and think deeply about faith and life (Ps. 111:2). Seminary helped me do that, and I love God more as a result.
3. Realizing what I don’t know.
Coupled with gaining a ton of knowledge came a profound sense that I don’t know it all. It was humbling. It was necessary. And it was so good.
Being in seminary was like stepping back from the waves and seeing the ocean for the first time. . . . I needed to see God as God, because sometimes when we think we understand something we begin to think we can control it.
Like many people in and out of seminary, my walk with God had been characterized at times by the lazy and arrogant presumption that I had things “all figured out.” I thought I understood God, and rarely looked at him with awe. But somehow, being in seminary was like stepping back from the waves and seeing the ocean for the first time. I came to see how big, unsearchable, and even unknowable God is. He condescends to reveal himself to us, yes, but he is so huge, so powerful, and so infinite we can never grasp all there is to know. I needed to see God as God, because sometimes when we think we understand something we begin to think we can control it. But God is more than I’ll ever comprehend, and I realized that in seminary.
4. Understanding what I do know.
Even though there’s so much we’ll never know, there’s so much we can know. We all have questions, and that’s what theology is—asking questions about God. Each time I sat down in class, I joined with centuries of people who have asked the same questions I was asking—believers who have searched, studied, and dedicated their lives to sharing insights with the rest of us. Yes, God is unfathomable, but he’s knowable, and there are answers available to many of our deepest questions. Seminary not only helped me find answers, it also taught me how to ask better questions.
Seminary not only helped me find answers, it also taught me how to ask better questions.
5. Honing my truth filter.
Seminary gave me a firm foundation of truth, which serves as a gauge by which I measure everything I hear. It’s guarded me from bad theology and helped me to weed through fields of ideas to find teaching rooted in scriptural truth.
I needed that. I needed a compass. There’s so much teaching out there and without a firm foundation, it can be extremely difficult to discern the difference between what’s true and what’s not. My seminary education gave that to me.
Is seminary absolutely necessary to get that foundation (or any of the other things I’ve mentioned)? No, not necessarily. Could a person learn all I learned without a seminary education? Probably. But it’s harder to do it on your own. There’s something to be said about surrounding yourself with trustworthy, godly professors who will guide you to a deeper faith in God and knowledge of his Word.
Well, there it is. That’s what I’d tell a friend if they asked whether I’m glad I went to seminary. I’d refill her coffee, double check the time to ensure we weren’t late for preschool pickup or whatever errands we were supposed to be doing, and if we still had an extra minute we’d discuss the ways seminary might be possible if she were interested.
No matter where God leads me from here, I’ll never regret the time I spent in seminary.