Congratulations!!! Yeah, you. I’m talking to you. You who three years ago walked on campus with your moleskin journal and Gap khakis. You who enjoy discussing things like hermeneutics, atonement theories and the theology of a mustache . You who regularly correct your grandparents: “No, I’m going to seminary. Not cemetery.”
Yes, you. I’m talking to you:
Because you’re about to become a seminary graduate. Which just kinda means that everyone expects you to know how to explain Revelation and you’ve yet another institution calling to ask for money. Okay, so it means a bit more than that. Just a bit.
In fact, here’s a few other ways you know that you’re about to graduate from seminary:
- ) You can define ‘paragogic nun’ but when someone asks you “do you use Quicken?” you go:
“‘Quicken?’ is that an imperfect or imperative?”
2.) Whenever your parents visit and ask if there’s anything they should bring, you say:
Dry campus = dry theology. And it’s been a long three years.
3.) When a church offers you a salary of $30K you’re all like:
4.) This is your reaction to dispensationalist theology:
5.) This is what happens when you think of no more meetings in your favorite professor’s office.
6.) When your spouse responds “ARE YOU SERIOUS RIGHT NOW?!” to you mentioning the possibility of even more school, all you can say is:
7.) When you realize you actually have to return your library books (no more eternal renewals!) you respond:
8.) You have frequent freak-outs at the thought of being called “Master of (ANYTHING)”. Because it just sounds absurd. Heck, you only just figured out how to (properly) make Ramen. And you learned just yesterday that cars require oil changes every now and then (sorry again about the van, pops). Sure, you know a lot about what white, dead guys think about God and sure you can parse verbs in five (dead) languages…but “Master”?
9.) Regardless, you still enjoy correcting people’s pronunciation of Barth.
10.) But this is what happens when you read your student-loan repayment plan:
11.) Listening to Taylor Swift results in an existential crisis regarding your calling.
12.) Every other person you meet asks you if you’ve read The Shack or The Chronicles of Narnia.
13.) This summarizes your most recent job interview:
14.) You regularly have nightmares that involve your professors saying:
15.) Thinking of doing life without your seminary classmates makes you wanna:
16.) When old college friends ask if you’d like to go out for dinner, you feel the necessity to remind them:
17.) You used to think ministry would be like:
…but now understand its really like:
18.) Your landlord congratulated you on finishing graduate school by asking:
“…and no, you can’t pay with Biblical commentaries.”
19.) You began seminary being all like:
…now you have no problem telling someone:
20.) You listed “God” as a character reference on your resume.
21.) …the same resume on which you also listed “Fantasy Football Manager” under “Additional Skills”.
22.) You have at least 25 books that you purchased for class, never read, and don’t plan on selling.
23.) At least one friend has asked you to proofread their Greek tattoo.
24.) This was the last advice you received from your significant other:
25.) When you hear the words “group presentation” all you can think is:
(Dear God, never again!)
26.) You wear your tweed jacket on a first date, expecting:
…bbbuuuutttt instead you got:
27.) Your car’s engine sounds like the grade on your last exam looks (#senioritis).
28.) This summarizes your philosophy of youth ministry:
29.) Old associates like to introduce you as “my friend who went to seminary” and all you can think to say is:
30.) Reading the comments section of HuffPost Religion makes you think:
31.) Whenever someone asks you “so, what’s next?” you tell them:
32.) This is how you feel about any and all snide remarks concerning “Masters of Divinity” and “Hogwarts (guffaw, guffaw)”:
33.) When someone asks you why you went to school for so many years, you tell them:
But that’s not (entirely) true.
You went to seminary because you felt called. You went to seminary because you believed that God had something to teach you. To teach you through flash cards, paradigms and endless pages of reading. Something to teach you through the classes, lectures, office hours and review sessions. Something to teach you through community, through friends, through brothers and sisters from across the globe who came to seminary to learn something. Just like you.
You came hoping to become capable. You leave feeling humbled. Humbled by grace, humbled by questions, humbled by the knowledge of all you don’t know. You came to seminary hoping to become a leader; you leave hoping to become a servant; a servant of God, a servant of others, a servant of the Gospel story which you leave desiring to tell.
But as you leave the hallways, classrooms and campus housing; as you hug friends, thank professors and swap high fives with your old study partners; as you pack up your books, pack up some more of your books, and (dear heavens!) pack up more of your books; as you venture forth into the world, into schools, sanctuaries, workplaces and churches; as you graduate from seminary and continue on your journey, you do so knowing that a part of you will always call this place home.
Because you may be graduating. But you’ll always be a seminarian.
Which is to say that your alma mater is calling. And they’d like some money.