Why is it that we have to make tough choices? Like, why can’t they be soft choices? Easy choices? Fluffy choices? Anything better than tough choices.
You know the ones: the kind of choices that make you sweat like you just ran a marathon. The kind of choices that make you question yourself in every possible way. The kind of choices that distract you long enough so you accidentally put Dr. Pepper in your coffee.
I bring this up because I had to make a tough decision in 2015 already. I decided I’m not going to be in seminary anymore.
Well, for a semester at least.
You see, I started seminary in the fall of 2010. I’ve been on this grind for four years, working on Master’s degree. I did the math (trust me, it took a long time) and I learned that, with as long as I have been in school, both Bachelor’s and Master’s, I could have been a doctor by now. Or a veterinarian. Wait, they handle cats, right? Never mind. Cats are evil.
And honestly? I’m burnt out. The mere thought of sitting in a class, listening to a guy talk about theology in a monotonous tone does not have the same appeal as it once did. I had to step back from the books and the papers and ask myself, “Is my heart really in this anymore”.
Now, before any high-and-mighty Christian gets all uppity in my business for that last sentence, and starts pointing his bony finger in my face, telling me to man up and do what God has called me to do, let me just say this: I really think God is telling me to do this.
Okay, I get it. The moment someone says “God told me to do this” they sound like a lunatic. I totally agree in most cases. Especially when a student in the church uses it as an excuse to break up with a sweet girl so he can go chase some other girl whose role model is Nicki Minaj and her vocabulary consists of 5 words that are no longer than 4 letters.
But I’ve had to face the facts: I was so focused and stressed out over school that I:
- Neglected helping my wife keep the house clean
- Stopped taking my wife out on dates (men, always date your wife, don’t care how old y’all are)
- Started slacking off at work
- Ignoring all of my friends
- Stopped studying Scripture for growth
- Stopped praying
- Became overwhelmingly apathetic towards ministry
- Stopped going to church
To put it simply, I’m not being a good husband to my wife nor am I being a faithful follower of Christ because I have made seminary my idol. And it is suffocating me. I need to get my priorities in order and get straightened out.
Don’t hear m–hear? Read? Read. Don’t read me wrong: I’m not in anyway saying seminary is bad and you should not go. Seminary has helped me think more critically, interpret the Bible more correctly and opened up doors for me, while introducing me to life-long friends. I would encourage you to go, if God is really calling you there.
But the one advice I can give you is this: don’t pick the popular degree.
You see, at my seminary, the big mama-jama, the big kahuna degree is the M DIV, aka Masters of Divinity. It is a 93 hour degree. That is a lot of school. And it isn’t for everyone. I thought that’s the degree I needed to get a good church job, which, it might be. Really though? I only picked it because a few of my mentors at the school got that degree. What I quickly found out was that I am way out of my league.
That’s why halfway through, I switched to the MACE. It already sounds cooler! And it’s only 36(?) hours. Even better.
A lot of my M Div classes don’t carry over? Well, crap.
To be honest, if I took some classes this semester, and in the summer, I would probably graduate in the fall. But with the shape that I’m in now? Seminary needs to take a back-seat while I get right with God, get back to dating my wife and restore what work ethic I had.
It wasn’t an easy decision. Then again, I guess that’s why it’s called a “tough decision”.