It is 4:45am. I woke up before 3:30am thinking about how the last To Do on my first semester back in seminary was to take my final exam in my Church History class. Who can go back to sleep when you’re thinking about a 12th-century monk, right? Ten minutes later I walk into my study with a cup of coffee.
My Church History prof only releases exams on Thursday nights, otherwise I would have taken the final a couple days ago. As much as I want to open my study sheets for the test, I force myself to prioritize and read a chapter of God’s Word first. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God…”
Don’t give me too much credit. Yesterday morning I opened my laptop before my Bible and wasted time on WordPress tweaks on this website instead of spending time with the Lord. My loss.
The Long Road to an MDiv
MDiv is short for Master in Divinity. It’s a 90-hour theology/ministry degree. I’ve been working on mine since Fall 2010, though with gaps of several years at various times, including changing programs completely to earn a traditional MA in 2015.
I hope to graduate in 2021. By then it will have been a 12-year on-again off-again journey across three schools, two moves, having run out of cash twice, gone full-time, scaled back to part-time, then to no-time…You get the idea.
M.A. for Effort
Many times it has looked like I’d never cross the MDiv finish line. It got to a point that I just wanted the piece of paper to have something to show for all the work I’d done. In 2014 I walked away from the MDiv path and essentially started from scratch (minus some applied credits) to complete an MA in Biblical Counseling. But finishing this 90 credit-hour degree always remained a personal goal, simmering there on life’s back burner.
I’m getting my MDiv at the same school I got my M.A, Luther Rice College and Seminary. Is it the most academically rigorous school? No. Is it prestigious like the other schools I’d been to? No. But then again, both of those other schools are, arguably, struggling to stay conservative. Luther Rice may not be a flashy speedboat, but in its humble little way it motors along and never strays far from the coast of the Bible.
Originally, I had hoped to use it in pastoral ministry, but I don’t see myself as being the “lead pastor” type anymore, unless it was a church of under 50 people. Then maybe. I really have a heart for those small churches and those men who pastor bi-vocationally, holding down a church preaching and shepherding schedule and a full-time job elsewhere.
What God might actually use the MDiv for isn’t clear yet, but then again, if He just uses it for me personally or for my writing, those count. He’s used it already to help make me into the man I am today, and will be tomorrow. If I’ve learned one thing in all the detours of my life as a Christian, it’s that God uses everything and wastes nothing. I don’t know who first said that, but boy they were right.
Facing the MDiv Giant
This past summer I decided to go back to school to face the MDiv giant for the final time, I hope. At the time, I was under-employed as I transitioned from full-time real estate into …something. I was trying my hand at selling insurance (a big No). Then had a one-week stint fixing ATM machines and cleaning Wal-Mart self-checkouts before the official offer I had been waiting for for my current project manager role came. It was ambitious to start two online classes after being away from academia for four years and a new full-time job at the same time, but I realized that—at only 11 classes left to take—if I really hit the books over the next year and a half I could walk at graduation the same semester I’ll turn 50. Challenge accepted.
A Providential Pairing
Taking Missions and Church History at the same time worked out great. There was a lot of overlap between them, one talking about how the Church began and moved forward chronologically over the first 1500 years, and the other filled in the gaps of how it expanded (and contracted, or shifted) geographically. I thought both classes were going to be the kind of required class you just tick-off as Done, but I learned far more from both than I expected and just really enjoyed them.
Well, back to my morning. After reading a chapter in Isaiah, I review my notes one last time, open my laptop, and sign in to take my final. (I had closed out Missions on Monday when I submitted a 10-page paper.) I think I miss a few questions but I use my “student’s intuition” (I guess). At the end I’m surprised that with the extra-credit offered, I ace it. For taking a final at 4:15am, I’m happy with that!
Next semester I plan to take four classes (Lord willing), which will keep me on track for my Spring 2021 graduation goal. Over the break I have a couple of writing projects and blog posts I want to work on. But for now, I’m pretty excited I can still catch a two-hour nap before I have to get up for work.