The next semester rolled around quickly and I found out that there was a required class that I would need to take. I really wanted to dive into “regular” classes at the time, but reluctantly registered for the required class as well. Technically, I was now taking the same amount of credits as last term, but this time it was made up of three classes instead of two.
One class was the second part of the Greek language class series with the same instructor as last time. There was definitely a lot to learn in that class and the instructor kept encouraging us in studies. I still remember the example that this instructor gave about certain verb “conjugations” (paradigms)—jokingly saying something about how we might be called up sometime on the phone at night or early in the morning (when we least expected it) and asked to recite things from memory. If you like languages, this series of classes can be fun—and I found it fun. Sadly, I became increasingly focused on grade point average by this point. The first semester went well, but now I was unknowingly on the path to striving for some sort of perfection.
Another class was about various approaches to worship and what that can look like in terms of worshiping God. This was an elective class, but I took it thinking it was meant to be about worship in the sense of worship music. In some ways, what I began to learn could be applied to music as well, but the focus was broader in that sense. One of the parts of this class that especially stood out to me was the opportunity to visit other churches to observe varying traditions. Sadly, the paper I wrote about these experiences probably dripped with my increasing pride at this time.
The third class during this semester was the class I was reluctant to take—the required class. Many students at my seminary are required to take this class and it goes through various personality and ministry-related tests in order to help students see one’s personal gifts and how gifts might be able to be applied. This was one of the hardest classes for me, though, because it involved getting together with other people who were not a part of the same class. I’m thankful that there were fellow brothers at church who were willing to spend time meeting together during this semester.
Throughout this semester, however, my pride turned to panic as the semester was drawing to a close and my grades were starting to slip.
Though it took a number of years to actually start, I began seminary thinking I would become a pastor. When I was little, I thought it would be interesting to be a preacher. I know my grandma was at least somehow related to this thought about being a pastor someday, too. But I somehow had the idea that one can easily become a pastor if only one goes to seminary. So, it was time to go to seminary.
Seminary began with a class at night and an online class. One of my early mistakes was that I didn’t realize there is a difference between undergraduate credit load and masters program credit load. I ended up taking what felt like many credits while still chugging along at my new workplace. But I kept running along with this rearranged “full time everything” idea (though, not actually full time in this case) that had seemed to work out well for a previous program of study. But I think this “full time everything” mentality was part of my pride winding up—unbeknownst to me.
These first two classes dealt with learning how to interpret Scripture and Greek Exegesis. The first class was definitely difficult as it brought up a lot of new vocabulary and concepts that I hadn’t thought about before. The second class was the beginning of a series of classes in Biblical Greek. I thought it was fun to get started on the Greek class, and my course instructor at the time seemed enthusiastic about the subject.
The semester went by pretty quickly and things seemed to be going well. It was the start of a new season, and I felt ready for the new challenge.
I wish I could say that since my last post here on this blog (more than a few years ago) that my tendency towards pride was lessened. Sadly, my tendency towards pride probably increased as my time at school came to a close after that previous senior project was completed. Little did I know just how much pride would become a stumbling block in my life until the next chapter in school began—the chapter called seminary and a new job.
After graduating from school where things seemed to be going fairly well, I had the opportunity to start a new full time job and then start a new part time school. This time, however, the school was seminary and the job was programming.
I began the new job with a desire to “clean up” some of what I thought were loose ends or aging systems. I really thought I knew what I was doing in those early days and with lots of self-confidence I plowed ahead, “cleaning up” many things along the way.
I didn’t realize that beginning a masters program at seminary would be very different from a bachelors program like the past. Especially challenging was the seeming fact that there were no real rules on how much work could be assigned for a particular class. Yes, there are “official limits” that are listed in syllabi as far as how many hours you can expect to work for a certain number of class credits, but those limits were greatly tested in my experience—especially in the area of reading.
It’s hard to let go of things.
After 365 days of work, a modest senior project for school is “finished”. As usual, there’s always more that could be done with this project… and I wish the project could have been more complete by now. At this point it almost doesn’t matter what type of project it was (a simple music generation program) but more that it’s time for a rest.
I’ve learned a lot of things throughout the year, though, like the futility of my plans in life, the emptiness of endless work, the limits of my body under ongoing stress, and the regret for any wasted/misused time this year. Thankful for the lessons (hopefully) learned on the importance of remembering the Sabbath, the importance of right priorities (who am I serving?), and for the Lord’s mercies this year. Time to get back to reality…
There’s something special about programming, though… and building a programming project is like growing a garden: they both take a lot of attention and care. Sometimes programming projects take you away, and some get taken away. This past year has seen both of those directions: a giving and a taking away.
A giving and a taking away.
Listening to songs from years ago really brings me back to the “good times”. 2008 was a golden year. At the same time, 2008 was a time of confusion for me (just like the present…) But listening to these old recorded songs reminds me that my younger self has a lot to teach my older self.
As I get older, though, and while I feel like I’m noticing more or become better at observing (some) things in life… I’m also becoming less active in trying to do much in life. My younger self had so much passion and urgency. What changed? Oh yeah, school.
Day 28 without Facebook, Twitter, and other social-only networks. At times it’s been harder and easier than I thought it would be. Doing Lent for the sake of Lent can lead to a superficial perspective, though, and I’m wanting this time to be used for focusing upward and not on the things I’m missing in the daily lives of friends and family.
As I heard the other day, this is how it “used to be” before the Internet faucet was unleashed for the general public. I’m definitely not missing my Facebook update-checking, but it is kinda nice to know how things are going for friends and family near and far away. Trying to focus in my own strength leads to failure, though, and even with Facebook and the rest on the sidelines, it’s almost funny how quickly my thoughts begin to focus inward.
By faith and not by sight…
Don’t want to lose my focus.
Am I using my time to serve You?
The scandal of school—having to actually learn something!
Isn’t it interesting how music can evoke memories of the past? Lately I’ve been thinking about the possibilities of using music to store information in the mind. I’m not sure how this could actually be done, though, and music might work better for memories or feelings instead of non-emotional data. It’d probably make studying for tests a lot easier, though!