A new school year has started and I want to drop some words of wisdom on the next class.
For those of you in Seminary here are some tips for succeeding at getting your master’s degree.
1. Realize this is a choice: It may not feel like you have a choice, but you do. You can quit anytime you want. There is no one making you do this. You have been called to a path that you can reject; in fact, you probably should try to do something else. When you start to feel overwhelmed say this to yourself, “I chose this.”
2. Master the information: Study until it hurts then study more. Someone once told me, “the goal of the master’s level education is to master the information.” This is not the time to come up with your own new innovative perspective and write it into everything you do while ignoring the information in courses. If you want to come up with your own thing go on to get a Phd. Right now, master your coursework.
3. Find a pastor mentor while in school: This is really important. Find a mentor to show you the ropes and teach you what it means to be a pastor. You get a little of this while on internship, but internship should not be the only place you learn “how” to be a pastor. I was lucky enough to work with Rev. Bruce Johnson. He taught me most of what I know about being a pastor. The primary thing he modeled was how to have compassion and love people. I also had the Rev. Dr. Clay Schmidt. He taught me how to preach and lead worship. These two men and a few others molded me even before I went on internship. I submitted to their wisdom and experience even when I disagreed, they taught me how do be a minster of the Gospel. Even after seminary I surround myself with people who I trust. Do this: FIND A MENTOR.
4. Stop Complaining: School is difficult, get over it. You will have many late nights, thousands of pages to read and write, missed opportunities for hanging out with friends outside of school. Your job is to earn an income and study. This is unfair to everyone around you, including your family, but this is what it takes. I found my course work at both seminaries to be reasonable. In fact, I found that the seminary where most people complained had a significantly lighter load. When you complain about school, you are complaining about something that is easily fixable, stop going. Stop putting yourself through it. Read As A Man Thinketh or As A Woman Thinketh to get your mind right.
The less you complain, the better you’ll do.
The less you complain, the more you’ll start to actually enjoy school.
5. Find an activity outside of the school: Get away for a while: This level of schooling is stressful. Find something that helps you relieve stress and do it as often as you can. I took up Brazillian Jiu Jitsu and was able to do it once a week, sometimes twice a week, sometimes it was once every two weeks. Getting away for a short time will help you be a better student.
6. Worship Regularly: This will keep your academics in perspective. Worship more than on Sundays.
Pastors, what are some other things students can do to succeed at seminary?