7 Action Items For Your First Month In Seminary
By: Gail Mayes August 28, 2014
Thousands of students are getting out their trapper keepers and sharpened #2 pencils and starting their first week of seminary this month. Seminary students, take advantage of this vital time with these seven action items for your first month in seminary:
Your years in seminary are the ideal time to start building your personal and professional network. I know - you just stepped foot on campus and you are more concerned with figuring out where to purchase your Greek flash cards than building relationships that may help you get a job once you graduate. However, this is exactly what you should be doing. Become involved in student organizations that are of interest to you and attending alumni events in order to meet individuals that have been in your shoes and are connected to churches. This will prove valuable when you are on the job hunt 3 years from now. Don't forget to keep track of individuals that you meet and continue building into these relationshipsthrough regular emails and visits.
2. Sign up for a marketing or an accounting class.
One of the greatest complaints about seminary is it does not prepare pastors for the daily work of leading a church. Even a high level understanding of marketing or accounting can give you the skills necessary to create a realistic budget for your ministry or a marketing campaign for your church once you graduate. If feel like you lack knowledge in either of these areas, don’t worry! You can enroll in class at your local community college. The content you gain will be practical and valuable in your ministry. Do this before you leave seminary. Trust me.
3. Go cross-cultural.
For some, seminary can be a bubble. Look into going on a short-term missions trip or volunteering with an under-resourced and under-served population near where you live and study. You might be able to get credit hours for it. Not only will this provide you with an opportunity to do good, but by getting out of your comfort zone, you will have multiple opportunities for spiritual growth and personal reflection. By getting out of the seminary bubble, you are choosing to serve, befriend, and care about a population that may be part of your church one day.
4. Practice self-care.
Seminary is days, weeks, months, and years of hard work. The pressure to perform can be spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually exhausting. Such exhaustion can cause havoc on your relationships and your health. And believe it or not, the exhaustion won't stop once you graduate from seminary - ministry is equally, if not more, taxing. That makes your first few weeks and months in seminary critical to the formation of healthy self-care habits. Spending time in the Word, regular exercise, getting a full nights sleep, eating well, and finding time to do things you love are critical to keeping yourself emotionally, physically, and relationally healthy during this busy season of your life.
5. Find a mentor.
You were more than likely assigned to an advisor when you enrolled into seminary. The person was most likely a professor or teacher at the seminary – and that’s great! By all means, build into that relationship. However, getting a real-world mentor - a pastor or elder at a local church - will prove to be invaluable during your years in seminary. A mentor will care more about your soul than your GPA or knowledge of Greek. Allow yourself to be poured into, prayed for, and encouraged. Allowing a mentor into your lifewill supplement your classroom learning in ways that will only make you a better pastor.
6. Gain leadership experience.
Most seminary students work jobs in the secular workplace during seminary. Don't be discouraged at this reality and wish that you were one of the lucky few who were able to land a job at a church. Leadership experience - both in ministry and in the secular workplace - is valuable. If you are a manager at a coffee shop, drug store, or restaurant, praise God that he has given you the opportunity to learn how to lead, motivate, and mentor those under you. Once you have graduated, this experience in leadershipwill translate to your work as a pastor.
7. Be active in a local church.
This should be a no-brainer; after all, you are in seminary to learn how to pastor church! However, some seminarians become overwhelmed with their studies and too busy with work to do more than show up on Sunday morning. Make time to build friendships at church and volunteer in a ministry that is of interest to you. You will not regret it.
What tips do you have for new seminary students? Tell us below!