Seminary’s Un-mined Treasure: Its Faculty

by on September 17, 2008

For awhile I’ve wanted to write about discovering the treasure that is the seminary faculty, but realized it would be a little hypocritical coming from me. (Chad mentions this topic in his Top 5 “secret” tips for your first semester) This is my fourth year at Multnomah Biblical Seminary and it was not until this Fall that I made my first appointment with a professor (except for a four-minute sweaty palm appointment to challenge a low grade my first semester, but that hardly counts). Yes, it’s taking 3+ years of seminary to even make an appointment with a professor. Sad, I know. I always thought it would be neat to talk to them, but somehow the idea of actually scheduling a meeting seemed to require that I be either in need of serious counsel or in danger of dropping out, and I was neither. I never really felt an emotional need, and could never think of anything that seemed significant enough to demand their precious time. And, since I’m largely content to do things solo, I settled for chats in the hallways.

But by year four it was time. I finally had to do the internship I’d been putting off for three years, and by an amazing God-ordained turn of events, was invited to a do a Teaching and Research Fellowship with my mentor professor. This meant meeting with her weekly along with my other teaching, grading, and research responsibilities. Weekly? This means that this year I will meet with professors as least thirty times as much as I’ve done in all my other years combined (!). What I’ve learned so far? Our faculty is the un-mined treasure of this school.

I’m realizing these professors are so much more than teachers-they are vision casters and mentors and dreamers and facilitators. They are door-openers and enablers and wise and godly counselors. They are bruised and scarred men and women whose lives are brimming with stories to share. And what amazes me is that their aim is to see students, young and stumbling students like me, be greater, humbler, and more effective ministers of the gospel than they are themselves. As my mentor said, “My job is to dream something bigger for you than you could ever imagine.” And she has. It is relationships like these that serve as catalysts for God’spurposes will to be carried out for His glory.

As another professor told me today, “You don’t have to have a problem to come see me. Just come see me. We can go for a walk, talk about ministry. Bring questions, ideas, concerns, or just your sandwich and a cup of coffee.” I’m now seeing that if we only attend classes, we’re missing the greatest treasure seminary has to offer–the precious men and women of God who give their lives to see us thrive. Mine this treasure. Make an appointment, and see what gem you may unearth.

Comments

I am currently in my first year at Westminster Theological Seminary, and let me tell you, this article is certainly true. My more personal time with faculty is where I see the content of their lectures lived out. Many faculty here are eager to spend time with students. Get dinner grab a beer (like good Presbyterians). I’m actually writing this while sitting in a class with a professor that ends every day by telling us where he’s eating lunch and encourages us to join him.

Coffee appointments are often much more free, enjoyable, and profitable than office appointments. I would encourage everyone to shoot emails to your favorite professors and try to arrange such an appointment. There is a reason they are your favorites. It is because there is something that goes beyond the classroom that you connect with while in class. This is what you can directly engage with outside of the classroom. So, I write all this to tell you: hang out with your professors!

When I first started seminary, I remember hearing them toss around the phrase “pastor-teacher” or “pastor-professor,” and a lot of them have certainly lived up to that name. It really is such an incredible blessing to have folks like this who really understand that seminary is not just an academic pursuit, but it’s something for the whole person. That’s tough–I’ve heard people call seminary a spiritual “cemetery”–but when you have professors who act as mentors and pastors as well, it helps you see the bigger picture. They’re able to take the more academic stuff and make it real to life, make it something that has an impact on the way you live, think, act, and so on.

John Frame, professor over here at RTS says that theology is “the application of God’s Word by persons to all areas of life.” And the professors here are very good about making sure we get that. When you can one-on-one with them and really sort through these things, that’s something to really be thankful for.

Jake Belders last blog post..21st Century Greco-Roman Culture

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