Those who can discern and interpret a call on their lives for the glory of God are truly blessed. Many of us are unaware or oblivious to that ‘still small voice’ of godly counsel. Perhaps we have too much of the “poor soil” characteristics (see Matthew 13); maybe we drown out His voice with music, social media or other distractions. The truth is, we often have difficulty hearing (and heeding) God’s direction! If you have a clear vision of God’s call for you, praise His name for His mercy toward you and be grateful that He has revealed a portion of His will to you!
Often, God’s call requires strong (and significant) preparation. Those called into the medical field don’t just show up at the hospital and start performing surgery! Proper preparation is crucial to success in all fields. Similarly, a call into the ministry requires training, education and understanding. This is best obtained at Seminary.
But wait, you say. I have heard bad things about seminary. I heard that the best ones are hard to get into, and many actually teach you denominational history instead of God’s word. Some have instructors that aren’t genuine scholars of their subjects! Seminary will teach me to be judgmental and unloving – it can feed my pride instead of feeding me God’s Will!
Here is a good place to stop and consider the truth. Proverbs 26:22 says “the words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles; and they go down into the inmost body.” This means that not only do we enjoy rumors and gossip like sweet treats, they become such an influence over our perspective that it becomes hard to overcome them (especially when they are inaccurate). There have been many rumors that ruined many public figures – and those that were not completely false were highly exaggerated or overblown. It is hard to consider certain public figures without recalling the rumors about them (this is the ‘inmost body’ component of the gossip). Man is hard-wired to focus on negative aspects of people, places and events instead of positive. Maybe we as a people are so insecure that we feel a need to bring others down to our own sinful level rather than alter our own condition (see Titus 1:5).
Gossip and rumors are not new (please consider that Proverbs was written by King Solomon!). Today’s culture is rife with gossip on many levels due to public interest and desire (websites) and enlarged networks of personal contact (social media). It is difficult to avoid rumors and gossip – it seems that so little information is truly verified and fact-checked before being presented as ‘news’ – and with the huge population of blogs, review sites and other gossip outlets (many with a large degree of anonymity), harmful data (character-damaging reports) is freely available without accountability.
Similarly, there is a mass of information available for anyone to do a little personal research to debunk the myths and rumors – we are truly in the Information Age (for good and bad). The lesson here is to engage in fact-checking and don’t rely on the “word on the street” as your only source of information. And do not overlook the Scriptural mandate in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 to “encourage one another and build each other up.” The corollary is to NOT discourage and/or tear down (interpreted to mean do not pass along the rumor and further the reputational damage). Don’t be a part of the problem!
There are a few simple steps for you to follow in your dilemma about Seminary. Consider your question above and ask yourself:
- What exactly did I ‘hear’ about Seminary? Was it related to Seminary as an educational environment or specific to one particular school?
- Is the ‘information’ I received factual or subjective? Are there any specific details or evidence to support the accuracy of what I heard? Can I follow up with my own research to confirm or rebut the information?
- Does the validity of this information change my perceived path through Seminary? If this data were true, is it a game-changer?
- How much of my own preconceived ideas are included in my perception? Am I showing a bias either way?
- If God is calling me to ministry, is Seminary a genuine requirement or are there valid alternatives?
The bottom line is simply this: as God calls His people to do His work, He will guide them where He wants them to go. It is always us who get in our own way (demonic influence notwithstanding); it is always us who are called to account for our actions (and inactions – see James 4:17) and it is up to us to apply biblical principles to every facet of our lives.
Are you called to ministry? Praise God for his clear direction! Take the road He offers and go and make disciples of Jesus Christ.