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Why the Big Pause? | Seminary Student Blogger

July 12, 2012

Dim Alldridge

A Panda walks into a bar and says to the barman,

“I’ll have a pint of beer and……………………..a packet of chips, please.”

“Sure,” says the barman,

“but why the big paws?”

May 7th – September 10th, 18 weeks, 126 days, or about 1/3 of the year. That’s how long we have off between the end of the Spring Semester and the start of the Fall Semester. That’s not something I mention too often to the folks back home, or in my support letters for that matter!

So, why the big pause? Why do we stop studying for one third of the year? Why, when the rest of population of the U.S. gets around 10 days off per year and the rest of the world (who are only slightly less obsessed with work) get around 25 days off per year, do we get 126 days off, just in the summer?

Why not squeeze in another semester? (And by “squeeze” of course I mean just have another semester exactly the same length as the other two and still have 7 weeks off.) Why spend 126 days forgetting all the Greek and Hebrew vocab you just learnt? Why spend 18 weeks getting out of the habit of working hard, when it was only in the last two weeks of the semester that you actually got into the habit of working hard? Why take 3 years to finish your degree program at two semesters per year, when you could finish it in 2 years taking three semesters per year?

Of course there are lots of good reasons. To earn money so you come back next year, to catch up on a few intensive classes so you can finish on schedule, to reacquaint yourself with your wife/husband/children or to give yourself a break from those little vocab cards; to name just a few.

But here’s one more suggestion.

It’s not because we need the break from hard work, and certainly not because we need a 126 day holiday, but it’s because seminary isn’t about force feeding as much as we can into our heads in as short a time as possible. It’s about learning to love the Lord.

Seminary is great, but only if you get out of seminary. Learning about God is great, but only if you love him more. Perhaps we need a third of the year out of class so we can put what we’ve learnt in class into practice? Perhaps we need 18 weeks out of seminary in the real world, so that we can remember why we’re in seminary and what a privilege it is to be here? Perhaps we need 126 days to meet real people with real lives and real needs who speak normally, to make sure we don’t forget what we’re doing and who we’re doing it for.

It’s a long time until September 10th. What are you going to do?

Dimitri (Dim for short) and his wife, Gayles, moved to the U.S. from England in 2011 to pursue a Master of Divinity degree from Gordon-Conwell. He grew up in a little town in England called Sevenoaks and completed his undergraduate degree in Automobile Design at the University of Coventry. Upon graduation, Dim spent some time as a ski instructor, a church intern and an assistant pastor. When he’s not pretending to study, he’s usually dreaming about skiing.

Tags: Author: Dim Alldridge , current students , equipping leaders for the church and society , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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I very much appreciate Dimitri's comments about finding balance. The pace at seminary can be very rigorous and and draining and it is good to change the pace once in a while to let your mind breath and to spend extra time in working on your relationship with God, ministry involvement, and focusing on your family (especially in the summer when your kids are out of school). Balance is the key to so much in life. I would add to Dimitri's post that most students don't actually take the summer off. That is quite rare. Rather, they change up the pace, taking some Semlink courses or several intensive summer courses. It's easy to take as many courses in the summer as you do in the fall or spring, but the format and pace is very different. Less time in the classroom means more flexibility for family time, travel, ministry, and work. That's was my experience and, I believe, the experience of most of other students. I wouldn't call this a pause, but a much-needed change of pace. Thanks for your wisdom Dimitri and I pray that you and Gayles have great change of pace this summer and return refreshed and recharged for the fall!
Scott 1:40PM 07/16/12
The wisdom that Dim exudes is refreshing. In fact, they should just call it wisdim.
Christian Eriksson 10:52AM 07/12/12

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