New Expectations

I’m officially a seminarian now.

Over the past couple years, I have had a number of opportunities to preach at churches. I’ve often heard responses such as, “I can’t believe you’re not in seminary yet.” Well, that day is here. When you are not a seminary student, I find that the expectations for you and your preaching ability are low. Quite low to be exact. And I’m beginning to wonder how much that will change now that I’m in seminary. Now that I’m expected to be taking homiletics courses. Now that I’m expected to be a pastor. Honestly, I enjoyed the low expectations. It was nice knowing that people weren’t expecting much out of you. But I guess part of growing up is garnering more responsibility (and expectations that come with that responsibility). So although I don’t feel any different, I have this eerie feeling that somehow, things are different, whether I want them to be or not.

Another common response I receive after preaching is “Don’t let seminary ruin you.” This concern is expressed by some of the most caring people in the churches that I’ve preached in. And I always get mixed feelings about such a comment. To them, it’s as if I’m already a pastor and more schooling will just get in the way of being a normal person. They have a case . . . many churches are not immune to the seminarian who is unable to communicate with his/her parishioners. But at the same time, seminary is 3 (or more) intense years of studying the Bible, theology, church history, and other topics that will never be replicated in one’s life. It is a time to become deeply rooted in the rich theological resources of the church at all times and in all places. This second expectation is that seminary will mar my faith into an unrecognizable mass.

I hope I’m able to maneuver through or around these new expectations with grace. And maybe in the process, realize I’m not the little kid I once was.

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