One of the worries of seminary students, when they first come in, are their hearts. They think that if they spend too much time studying God’s word or too much time in academics that they will lose their heart for God and that they will become stale and hardened. Truthfully, that is a legitimate concern. Some students end up down that path, and we work hard to make sure that they do not.One step that should not be overlooked is becoming involved with and committed to a local church.
The way to deal with that problem is by recognizing that serious study and spiritual life are not opposed to one another. We want to make sure that students do not come in thinking that they must choose between being a serious student or someone who has a heart for God. We think those two go together historically and biblically, so it is not a hard choice between the two. There are certain steps that every student must take in order to stay spiritually alive in seminary.
One step that should not be overlooked is becoming involved with and committed to a local church. Students should not think that seminary is the full picture of Christian community; rather, they need to be committed to a local church, a member of that church, serve in that church, and be fed in that church. That is a key part of staying alive spiritually. I want seminarians to realize that there is life outside of books. You pour out as much as you take in, and church involvement is critical.
Beyond that, I would encourage students to make sure that they are spending devotional time in the word daily. It is one thing to read the Bible for class; it is another thing to read the Bible and ask questions about your own heart. Those are distinguishable things. It is not as if, when we read the Bible for a class, we are not also devotional or that we think it is just academic, but there is a difference between that and reading it with attention to your own soul.
Students need to make sure that they are giving time every day to that type of study.