My First Year in Theology School

Before you know it, one year has passed. I previously wrote my first month review here. This second half was not a lot harder but much busier with more school commitments. Let me share some new lessons that impacted me greatly.

1. Own Your Theology

I’m not talking about making up your own theology but that you need time to wrestle with theological issues. There are a plethora of views for each doctrine, verse, and even word. Scholars can’t come to a mutual agreement so what is the student to do? For one, don’t accept blindly what you are taught. You got to go back to the source (ad fontes) the Word of God to find the answer. If you struggle reaching a proper conclusion that your conscience allows, struggle some more. Struggling shapes your critical thinking in ways that will help you later.

Until you have struggled sufficiently, you have not owned it.  Until you’ve owned it, you cannot live it. Until you’ve lived it, you cannot teach it. Like the Bereans, they checked whether what Paul taught was in line with the Scriptures. Imagine that! They even checked the Apostle Paul. We must have the same attitude.

Acts 17:11

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

2. Don’t Bury Yourself in Books

It’s important to be reading books. There are tons of reading material assigned for each module and it’s hard to keep up sometimes. It’s tempting to skip a chapel, a coffee, a family group or a gym workout just to study. Well, don’t! There must be a balance in your lifestyle. Seminary is not all about studying and cramming as much information into your brain. Building relationships, having fun, and praying are all important to a holistic spiritual formation.

I often hang out for a drink in a nearby shop with a few classmates just to talk about reports, relationships, or just pray. I believe head knowledge is insufficient to survive in ministry. You need heart knowledge too. Having good relationships might even trump knowledge in the ministry. How do you relate to others? Do you see classmates as rivals, as irritants, or as family? Will you help a weaker classmate?

When I look at Jesus, a certain event touches me greatly. He wanted to bring his disciples to an isolated place to rest and relax. However, the crowds caught wind of it and followed him all the way there. But Jesus wasn’t angry for interrupting his rest. His compassion drove him to teach them and later on, feed them with two loaves and five fishes. Jesus was the ultimate source of knowledge. But he also was the ultimate source of love. He never turned anyone away. He made time for them. We need to keep this balance too.

3. Learn to Serve

Serving is one of the ways to grow. This half of the semester, I joined the Community Living committee and we’ve planned a few events so far. I believed it has helped me to grow by working with others and seeing the events foster unity in the community. It has also taught me new skills such as planning and budgeting. Thankfully, I work with two great brothers who help complement my weaknesses in many ways!

Serving in student council is an exposure to future appointments we might take up in the future. It allows others to observe our skills, abilities and weaknesses. All these help us to grow if we have a humble attitude to learn. Without serving, students are dangerously close to becoming armchair practitioners who know a lot about things “in theory”. My advice is to serve!

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