Letter to a Young Seminary Student

Thank you for your assignment. It contains some good insights, and some that are less so. Talking about the font size and paragraph breaks is an interesting observation, one I would not have thought to make.

On a more important note, please don’t make excuses for your lack of theological training in writing about a theology book. I know you’re a new seminary student, and that is perfectly fine. I am not expecting a J. I. Packer-esque tome.

But here’s the deal. If you try to excuse your lack of knowledge, you are telling me that you don’t take yourself seriously. If you don’t, why should I? You need to take yourself seriously, enough to believe that you are making a genuine, if modest, contribution through your writing.

The same will be true of preaching and teaching in your church. If you believe God is calling you to be a leader, then do your best to figure out what that entails and do it with all your might. If you are a leader, God will provide the followers.

Taking yourself seriously means believing that God is at work in and through you, even if occasionally in spite of you. That last part, by the way, is no more true of you than it is of old guys like me. So drive for the hoop and make the point you believe you should. Do it seriously and soberly, but with joy at the prospect of having this learning experience.

Being young and inexperienced means that you ought to moderate your expectations about how others may respond to you, but it does not mean that you ought to exercise your spiritual gifts with any less passion. There is a tension to be managed between not letting anyone look down on you because you are young (cf. 1 Timothy 4:12) and expecting to be able to tell more mature people what to do (cf. 1 Timothy 5:1-2).

Most of all, take this opportunity to think, read, and grow. Don’t take anything for granted. Remember to continually ask yourself the “why?” question. And do it all while believing that God has answers for that question and others. God will make things clearer, eventually, in God’s time.

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