While enjoying some free time during my month between vicarage and the beginning of classes, I have been asked one question repeatedly: "Are you ready to hit the books again?" Of course I look forward to that day when I am ordained and installed as a pastor. And while I would love to retire at the age of 27 (is it possible to retire before even beginning your career?) and spend the rest of my life traveling with Jamie and our soon-to-be-born daughter, I am ready to hit the books.
More than one person, after asking me this question, has answered it for me, telling me how I feel about the fourth year at the seminary. It usually goes something like this: "After tasting the real world, I'm sure you're dreading your fourth year." Others have joked that the fourth year is nice because I will be given more latitude by my professors, and not expected to work hard. Do you see a common theme here?
I ask you to pray for me, as I hope to avoid the temptation to treat this opportunity to be shaped and molded for future ministry like a holding cell, or purgatory. I learned many things while on vicarage, one of them being the importance of the fourth year. There is a congregation that will call me as its pastor in less than a year. Those people will trust that I have taken advantage of my opportunities at the seminaray. There are also many people who financially support seminary students. Imagine if they heard a fourth-year student talking about doing a minimum amount of work.
I have much to learn, and hope that I might maintain an attitude that is conducive to it. I hope to learn from my professors, from the thoughts of the many authors I will be reading, and from my classmates. Now that I have tasted a bit of reality, I realize the value of having one more year to learn from those who have gone before us. Indeed, I have much to learn, and look forward to such opportunities.
While Jamie and I will have our first child in early October, I pray that I might balance my vocations of husband, father, and student in a God pleasing way.