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.