The Joy of Glory

Discovering endless joy in the boundless glory of God…

Category: Letters to my Seminarian Self

Letter #18: Don’t Whine…Worship!

Dear Jonathan,

I walked through the halls of my old seminary today. So many feelings stirred within me as I passed places where years of conversations took place and lifelong friendships were formed.

In a single moment I felt like laughing and crying, which may sound silly, but one day you will understand. I realize I might have been being overly nostalgic and was probably romanticizing my seminarian days just a bit, yet I couldn’t help but wish that I could go back…even if only for a bit.

I wasted so much of my time in seminary wishing I was out! I wanted to get to the next phase of life. I would whine and complain about my classes, profs, work load, etc. All the whining made me miss the wonder of what I was actually getting to do.  I was being given the gift of taking several YEARS to devote knowing the Lord through his Word.

Sure…this is what all believers devote their lives to, but seminary affords you dedicated space, time, and resources for this pursuit unlike anything else. Jonathan, let me encourage you even in your last year…

worship3Don’t whine…worship!

As you do homework…worship! As you study languages…worship! As your reading load burns holes in your head where your eyes should be…worship!

Worship will help you keep the proper perspective on all that you are doing. It will help you keep going! Trust me, your grades will not sustain you, but worship will. Do not work hard for grades…work hard so that you are equipped to know and worship God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

When you sit around with your friends and a whining party begins…excuse yourself to another room to pray for yourself and them. Don’t be all “holier than thou” and try to call down fire on them for their complaining ways. Simply pray that you will have a heart filled with gratitude for where you are and that they will to.

You are in an incredible place, with just a little bit of time left…don’t waste it….maximize it!

Don’t whine…worship!

Grace and Peace,


*To know/understand the premise behind these letters please click here.

Letter #17: It’s not about the Paper…it’s about the Passion

Dear Jonathan,

I remember several points in my seminary career when I was discouraged, my friends were discouraged…or both. Many of us wanted to quit along the way. John-Mark probably more than anyone else…well…he and Jeremy.

As we crammed church history into our heads the day before a test, Jeremy would lament the manner in which our time was being “wasted.” He’d think of all the things we could be doing that would be “more” productive.

To a certain extent I agreed with him, but I knew (and so did he) that what we were doing in those moments wasn’t necessarily meant to bear immediate fruit, but future fruit. I would encourage him to keep on going because we were so close to finishing. His general response was, “J, I don’t want to do something just for a piece of paper…just for a diploma.” I couldn’t agree with him more.

graduation-cap-and-diploma-1024x749It’s not about the paper…it’s about the passion.

In those moments, I had to remind myself that all this work should in some way be stirring up within me a deeper passion for knowing God and making him known. Even as I looked at subjects like church history I knew that the lives of saints past should waken my heart to the wonder of a God who has worked through the lives of his people in all times!

Study can dull the affections of the heart, but only if you let it.  Wind can extinguish a flame…or that same breeze of oxygen, when channeled correctly, may actually serve as fuel. You want your studies to do the latter!

You and your friends are getting closer to the finish line and the paper, that wonderful diploma, is in sight! But…don’t run the race to graduation for the paper. Run it to know Jesus more. When you feel your studies are burdensome, know that there is mostly likely not something wrong with your material, but with your heart.

Jonathan, we have talked a lot about what NOT to cultivate at seminary, but perhaps I should focus more on what you should be cultivating. ZEAL! PASSION! LOVE…for the son of God who loved you and gave himself up for you.

It’s not about the paper…it’s about the passion.

Grace and Peace,


*To know/understand the premise behind these letters please click here.

Letter #16: Losing…Even When You Win

Dear Jonathan,

I’m not sure you understood my last letter, so I’m going to try this again. It seems like a big issue…I know it was for me. I know you were sad about recently losing a debate with one of your friends, but honestly…SO WHAT! You don’t have to win every debate for Jesus, especially in seminary! As a matter of fact, from my experience, I would tell you that when it comes to debating/arguing in seminary…

You lose…even when you win!

What I mean is this…Seminary is spring-loaded for pride (which we’ve talked about before). The gaining of so much knowledge in such a short period of time can easily produce a haughty spirit. There is, after all, knowledge that puffs up.

Hanging Boxing GlovesWhen you turn your “extra-curricular” time into theological boxing matches, this only produces opportunities for you to flex your newly formed hermeneutical muscles with the hope of knocking out your opponent. Too many KOs and you will begin to think yourself stronger than you truly are…

I call this “Seminary steroids”…and just like in pro-ball…they should be illegal.

You are injecting an unwarranted/false sense of superiority into your mind and heart. This will only be damaging to you, but also to your interlocutors. I’m not telling you to avoid theological discussion…not at all! I’m only saying, do not make winning such discussions your goal.

What then is the point you may ask? Simple…the goal is not winning, but understanding. The goal is not to prove your point, but to explain it. You should walk away from the discussion having a better grasp on your friend’s position and vice versa.

Such talks can actually lead to greater mutual respect and a deeper understanding of multiple theological opinions. This also promotes humility, for to understand another’s position, you must humbly open yourself to actually hearing it.

Jonathan, trying to win every argument in seminary will not lead you toward lasting friendships or a fuller understanding of the church to which you are trying to minister…because in seminarian debates…

You lose…even when you win.

Grace and Peace,


*To know/understand the premise behind these letters please click here.

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