You’re About To Graduate Seminary… Now What?


It’s that time of year. I can practically smell it, and not because I see tassels or “Congrats, Grad!" cards in Target.

No, it’s not that at all.

It’s those ridiculously heavy cards that arrive in the mail or magnets announcing that a date is to be saved: wedding season is upon us! And it’s those items that alert me that when the next 90 days conclude, several of my friends will be entering what I call: Reality Check Season.

You just completed 2, 3, or even 4 years of agonizing studies, and the world is your oyster. There hasn’t been a thought beyond getting through May or June. Now fast-forward 90 days, and in comes Reality Check Season. You have no job! There is no income! Your new bride (or groom) is wondering how long these gift cards can really sustain you (and frankly, so are you.) You submit your resume to Vanderbloemen Search Group and start applying for anything and everything. Student Pastor, Worship Leader, Senior Adult Pastor…ANYTHING… but you find nothing in sight.

I want to be a friend here and offer a few insights to help during the impending 90-day-slump.

You’ve just graduated from seminary, so now what?

1) Have a plan to attack the debt.

Only a few of us are lucky enough to complete undergrad and graduate school without debt. If you have, you must have been a Dave Ramsey prodigy. Please feel comfortable leaving any advice for our future/current grads below.

We are big fans of all methods of learning to live within your means around here at Vanderbloemen. Having been through Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University, I can attest to the benefits of learning the joy in living humbly and simply.

With that said, have a plan to attack that debt. Do you know what it’s going to cost to live within your means? Do you have a means of income? 

2) Get a job.

Everyone wants to wait on God’s calling for their lives. I want that for you as well. With that said, it’s easier to get a job while having a job. You can still wait for the burning bush or soaked fleece while pulling espresso shots at Starbucks. I also think there’s something to be said for being faithful where you are placed in that season.

Additionally, one way to discover your calling is through negative relief. Sometimes the best way to learn what we’re not called to is by just doing something and allowing your experiences to narrow down the field.

3) Get to know yourself.

Try taking personality tests that can help you know your strengths and weaknesses. We recommend the Leading From Your Strengths test, specifically for those of us in ministry. They’re fun to go through and great to put on a resume. With that said, don’t rely on these fully to know yourself.

Learn what gives you energy and what takes energy from you. Does talking through all hours of the night with your closest friend give you energy? What about going out with a huge group to share the Gospel?

Believe it or not, we all communicate and receive communication differently. As our CEO (and Socrates) often says, “Know thyself!”

Learn how you communicate with others. Do you find yourself easily irritated when you ask how someone’s day was and they tell you every detail? Do you wish you had time for personal conversations throughout the workday, or would you prefer to work hard/play hard?

4) Don’t stop learning.

The best candidates are those who are always growing and expanding. Take some online courses if you’re budget allows it. Are you up to date on the latest small group, children's ministry, and youth group trends?

With that said, isn’t it the same in the Kingdom of God? Isn’t that the goal of every Christian: to be conformed more into the likeness of God? And that means being willing to change, learn, apply, and grow. I don’t think I’ve ever met an influential leader who decided he/she had grown and learned enough.

5) Submit your resume here with us at Vanderbloemen.

We’re one of many resources out there, so don’t just stop with us. You can view our current job opportunities here.

6) Start all of these steps 3 months earlier than you think you need to.

Smart churches plan their team goals and tasks months in advance. It would be prudent for those who are still in school to begin exploring now.

Our CEO, William Vanderbloemen, had his first job locked down before Christmas his senior year of seminary. He used the following spring semester to prepare for his new opportunity. Smart huh?

If you liked this, then you'll also like Revolutionary or Evolutionary? 5 Tips for Pastors in a New Role