This fall I’m going to take my talents to Chicago and join the TIU Trojans (I’m from the home of LeBron James, so of course I had to imitated his departure announcement). Depending on how you’re connected to me you may already know this, but thus far I’ve only covertly alluded a few times to my seminary plans on the blog. However, a few days ago I spoke to my boss so now I’m able to be fully public about this.
Going to seminary is simultaneously exciting and terrifying. Reasons why it’s exciting are obvious. I’ll get to learn from and with real people rather than just from books, blogs, and audio. I’ll get to actually spend daylight hours studying Bible and theology rather than just pursue these things at the end of a full work day, so I’m excited to see what kind of scholarly fruit can be borne from devoting the best hours of my day to biblical study rather than just pursuing it on empty. But it’s also terrifying, partially because I feel like the Lord is calling me to pursue something for which there is about a .01% chance of success (more on that in a little bit). Partially because I’m giving up a decent job to spend all my savings on another degree that will most likely render me unemployable. So this is a scary transition, and it is a gigantic leap of faith.
So what is this path I feel called to pursue which has a .01% chance of success? Academia. It is the reason why, despite receiving a very clear call and a few huge signs right away I continued to pray for a long time before actually deciding to apply to seminary. What I ultimately came to realize (now it sounds so simple) was that I just needed to take the next step in faith, the step I knew God was calling me to take. I was trying to make sure that God was calling me to the final step before I was even willing to take the first because that’s just how I roll. I’m a planner. I like to have my ducks in a row; and for things that entail multiple steps, I like having a plan for each step before even taking the first. But there was a point in the process when the infrastructure I had laid in these seminary plans started to fall apart and I freaked out. I freaked out and started immediately modifying and re-planning, when the Lord smacked me upside the head with James 4:13-15. And that was a turning point of sorts in this journey.
And so, I am starting an MDiv with concentration in research ministry at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School this fall. I have a lot of ambitions for the next three years besides just rocking out in class (i.e. summa cum laude). I’d like to present at a regional ETS and/or SBL; I’d like to get a publication or two to my name. I’ll be working toward having a competitive application for a top-tier doctorate program in NT. But simultaneously, I’m holding the end result loosely; I’m continuing to seek the Lord’s will for future steps, to think about back-ups and alternative routes, and to trust that even if I don’t “make it,” God has a purpose for me in all of this. That even if I just get an MDiv and that’s it, it won’t be a waste. Believing that has been very difficult because I can’t really foresee anything I could do with that degree that I can’t do without it. When I take my eyes off the Lord I’m haunted by the fear of blowing $30,000 and then working at Starbucks for the rest of my life. But I’m taking this first step in faith because I know that God is calling me to seminary.
Ok, so now that this is public information, I invite academic advice, whether you’re a current doctorate student or have a PhD in biblical studies. I’ve read many blog posts for aspiring NT PhDs, so I know the basic necessities (e.g. research languages, Greco-Roman backgrounds, Jewish backgrounds, etc.). But I would really love some advice for these next three years. Even though I’m doing an MDiv I think I’m closer to an MA or ThM student (I couldn’t do either of the latter degrees because I don’t have any formal coursework in biblical studies) and I anticipate doing a lot of additional, more advanced study on my own. I just feel a bit lost and have had a hard time getting practical advice.
For those of you who pray, I’d greatly appreciate prayers in regards to smooth logistics related to the transition (e.g. hiring and training my replacement at my current job, finding housing and part time work at Trinity, etc.) as well as Greek studies. This latter one is huge, guys. Pray that I’ll be able to somewhat resist the temptations of the latest and greatest books and spend more time on Greek (if there are any publicists reading this, this does not mean you should stop sending me books. Μή γένοιτο! :D ) I’ve been self-studying Greek with the goal of testing into NT Greek Exegesis I because this would save me time as well as money.
Oh, and I almost forgot something huge!! I was offered a Mosaic Scholarship and am looking forward to being part of a community at TEDS pursuing the gospel work of social justice and racial reconciliation. This will force me to get my nose out of the books once in a while :)
And finally, for fun, I leave you with two memes I’ve made in the past few months related to my impending program of official nerdery (previously only posted in the “secrecy” of Facebook). As I’ve been saying for months on Facebook, #TEDSOrBust.