I can’t promise that this will be my last observation on going to seminary, and I assure you I’m not trolling for congratulations. Having just wrapped up a 12 year odyssey to obtain a piece of paper with six signatures and the words “Master of Divinity” on it, I do want to reflect a bit on it.
And while I did not begin my journey with the destruction of Troy, nor was there an attempt by any to steal my wife, I do find some parallel as I consider Ulysses and his ten year journey home. If you will bear with me, I shall explain.
First, I recognize that my path could have been easier. I tried to evade and avoid doing formal education, having been a pill of a student in college and not wanting to do it again. There came a point, though, where there really wasn’t much of a choice. I needed to learn, and I needed the proof that I had learned something.
Second, I had many false starts. Like Ulysses, I could not manage the short path home. There was the crash and burn in 1999-2000 when Ann and I, newly married and childless, thought we could figure anything out. Then there were a couple of starts, one in Memphis and another online. Neither led to completion.
This led to trying very hard to just put it behind me, and never bother. After all, I was pastor of a church, I had a family. I didn’t need that M.Div. There was no point in it.
Then, through the insistence of a few close friends and mentors, and with the support of both family and church, I decided to give it another shot. That shot lasted a little over a year, and then complications reared their ugly heads.
Finally, though, there were enough opportunities to put the entire degree together. The end result was that this past Friday night, I finally walked across the stage and was handed a single piece of paper. The culmination of doing 3 years of school work in 12 years was both relieving and exhilarating.
I am grateful for the learning. I am glad for the growth we have had as a family, and for the three extra faces at graduation. Across the twelve years of this process, we have grown and struggled, cried, and cried some more.
I cannot say enough thanks to the people who made this work. There is Ann, who has always believed I could do it. There are my children, who put up with the time and effort. There are my parents who have always pushed me to be better. Then there are people like Emil Turner, Ben Phillips, and Jimmy Albrecht who wouldn’t let me quit.
And the whole Almyra Baptist family that made this possible.
Learn, grow, and become what God has called you to be. It is worth the journey.