I am a huge fan of reading, but reading does not necessarily impact your life. It is not how many books you read, but how many books you implement. It is worthless to read books on marriage, and then not integrate those practices into your life. It is better to read a few good books and practice them, than to read 1000 books you never apply. Even if you discover the principles discussed in a book don’t work, you’ve learned something in the process.
The apostle James put it this way, “Do not merely listen to the word, but do what it says.”
The educational enterprise in the western world has focused too much on the dispensing and accumulation of knowledge. It is not how many facts you have memorized that determines a wise person. Sure there are facts that are important to remember, but how much of what you memorized in grade school do you still remember? How many term papers did you write in college that you use on a daily basis, even a yearly basis? Albert Einstein wrote, “Never memorize something you can look up.”
“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.” (Einstein) Let’s be honest, much of what is “learned” in seminaries is forgotten, including Systematic Theology, Church History, Survey of New Testament, or Small Group Ministry. Take the same tests 1 year after graduation and most seminarians would fail.
A good seminary education should help you develop the following skills:
Be Curious. Our brain’s chemistry changes when we become curious, helping us to better learn and retain information. Leaders are inquisitive about everything—people, history, ideas, or events.
Research. A good education should teach you how to find the information you need, when you need it.
Think Critically. Critical thinking is the ability to analyze and evaluate an issue to form a coherent judgment. It is important not just to know theology, but to think theologically. A google search can provide years of content and opinions. It is important to learn how to sift through all of the data and ideas in order to make a rationale decision.
Solve Problems. You’ve heard the expression of thinking outside the box. Real creative leaders also have to think inside the box. All of us have parameters, boundaries, or restrictions within which we have to solve problems. Leaders are called to put together plans to solve complex problems.
Relate to Others. Most leadership issues are relational issues. Great leaders love people and know how to connect with people.
Know God. You can be a great theologian and teacher, and not know God. Knowing about God is not the same as knowing Him. Knowing is intimacy. Knowing is to connect with God in our inner spirit. This is a matter of the heart. It is learning spiritual practices that will help you grow in your relationship with our Creator.
Rockbridge is not just about reading books, memorizing facts, or writing papers students never use. Our curriculum is designed to help students identify their God-given strengths and develop skills for their unique calling. Each course has practical projects that help students apply principles they learn in class and that they can immediately use in their ministry.
There are only six items in the above list, a Hebrew number for incomplete. There are many other skills you should learn at seminary. Click on this link to assess your ministry skills.
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