What else to bring to seminary?

In his last post Chad gave some good pointers on what to bring to seminary, and then concluded on the note: “Navigating seminary is different from college, it is an immersive experience that should be taken full advantage of.”

I totally agree. There were times a decade ago when I would (ahem) doze off during my civil engineering classes as an undergrad. But now? No chance of dozing off. In fact, when a prof lets us out early I usually get a little ticked. (I’m paying for this … for another decade on student loans!)

Chad’s list is good (a system for notes, a good bag, an organizational method, and a Bible) – see the comments too. To add, let me offer three others, two abstract and one practical.

A mind to work

Seminary is flat out hard work. Many never finish, and hardly anyone is there to just skate by. (Besides, in church history it seems God doesn’t use lazy people. It doesn’t all depend upon us, by we get to participate fully, carried along by grace.)

Be ready to be challenged and stretched, and to love every moment of it (even worshiping late into the night pining away on a research paper).

A heart to grow

We’ve all heard the classic stereotype … seminary = cemetary. With all my heart I can truly say the exact opposite has been our experience at Multnomah. The more I know about God, the more I love Him. The mind and heart are so interconnected that Jesus said He was here to usher in the new area of “worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24) — the heart and the mind fully engaged with God. We cannot genuinely love God with our hearts and not think of Him rightly in our minds, and vice versa.

Still, somehow there are students who go through the motions and get the “A” and miss the whole point of knowing, loving and enjoying God above all else, especially in our studies. As a side note, immersing one’s self in the local church is key as well. Making ourselves at home’ is essential to allowing God to form our character.

A budget to follow

(Here’s the practical one.) Your budget will ebb and flow, and often simply dry up. (Things won’t go as planned.) If you are married the tensions on your soul to be the provider will grate on your soul. You will learn faith and dependence. (That is good for us!) This is the ‘class’ that’s not in the syllabus.

But by all means be intentional about being frugal. You probably don’t need a bunch of tricked out technology, and developing a contented heart is a sign of treasuring Christ (Phil. 4:8-13).

Does anyone remember little league baseball (or youth soccer) and the kids who had all the super expensive gear? You know the one with matching batting gloves and flip sunglasses and a neat-o bat bag and cool warmup? Yeah, that kid was almost always the worst in the actual game. Not saying you should show up with no ‘gear,’ but the name of the game is more than having the toys to play.

You will be looking around and seeing everyone else’s ‘gear’ and be tempted to grab the same for yourself. (That’s called coveting (Colossians 3:5), and I wrestle with it every day.)A good tip for considering a large purchase is to wait one day for every $100 of the price. That will help lessen impulse buying, and effectively stretch your budget.

What’s missing?

Some might add a laptop to this list. Good point. But there are students on campus who don’t have a laptop. A computer at home, and access in the lab can often suffice thanks to USB thumb drives. There are a few reasons to need a laptop in class (see comments from Chad’s post), but I dare say there are far fewer distractions sticking to the “vintage” style of note taking. At least some of your classes should be old school, no computer, and I’ll leave it up to you to sort out which ones. (Okay, full disclosure: I sometimes use mine in class, and soon into this adventure Kari and I realized that one computer at home was not enough for two students, so we have two, um, laptops.)

Anyone else have anything to add?

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Jeff Patterson
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  • I won’t disagree with the laptop thing. We have 2 as well. One for work and one for home and school. Of course if it wasn’t for work we’d probably have one.

    I think it is great to figure out a class or two where you don’t need a laptop. The internet can be a great distraction/temptation during class.

    Tylers last blog post..Look of the Night

  • Tyler,

    Won’t comment on the old intermittent wireless network at our same unnamed seminary, as that has been vastly improved in the last couple of years. It used to seem like God had a plan in thwarting any off topic web activity during lecture. 🙂

    As for classes w/o laptops, probably half can be done that way. Definitely Spiritual Formation classes, and any classes that have all the notes already printed and purchased in a binder. Rebuking myself here!

    Jeff Pattersons last blog post..Being out of rhythm is painful

Written by Jeff Patterson