And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
This is the second post of a three post series. The first one, God First, discussed how God should be number one in our lives in everything that we do; specifically, where it concerns the seminary student. As I said in the previous post, this series is based upon a mantra my mom always said to me as a child growing up: God First , family second, career third. I would like to take a look now at where our family fits into the picture.
First and foremost, as has been detailed quite a bit here at Going to Seminary, make sure your spouse is with you as you begin your seminary studies. If your children are old enough to understand what is happening, I would certainly include them on the discussion as your decision to take classes every semester will have a direct impact on their lives, too.
My greatest concern here is the concept of “family second.” It is un-American to think of putting something, in this case Someone, before your family, but the Bible teaches us that we must. Christ referred to this when He answered the lawyer as to what the greatest commandment was and then followed that up with, “And a second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself” Mt 22:39. He concluded His answer with verse 40, “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
While finishing your seminary degree, you will sometimes be challenged by why you are “putting your family” though all of the rigor that is required to complete said degree. The answer must always be because God has called you. Yes, your family is second to God. Yes, there will be seasons (think mid-terms, finals, and papers) where you really won’t get to see your family. However, this does not mean that you should not consider your family’s well-being.
You must regularly consult your spouse and children (if they are of age) as you get deeper and deeper into your degree program. It may mean that you drop down to one or two classes for a semester. There is nothing wrong with allowing your family to help guide you. However, keep in mind that God must be first and therefore you should be praying and asking Him for direction before turning to your family.
The good news is, if God has called you, and your family is on your side so-to-speak, then you will find that during those lean times of seminary, your spouse and children will become closer. You will (hopefully) look back on your seminary career with fondness and see how the Lord used that time to make you a better father or mother and spouse.
May you use your time in seminary to begin to cement your legacy in the lives of your children!