September 10, 2013
Happy first week of classes! After a brief summer sabbatical, it is time to start blogging again. My name is Tim and I am a 3rd year M.Div. student, which essentially means that this blog is part of a carefully crafted scheme to avoid studying for my language competency exams coming later this week. Being a 3rd year also means that I am officially in my last year as an M.Div. student. Accordingly, I feel it is my obligation to start off this year with some thoughts that might serve the incoming first years well.
- Greek: At this point, most of you first year M.Div. kids have realized that Greek is graded on a 6-point scale. You may have THOUGHT that Spiritual Formation with Dr. Kang was going to be the most formative class for your prayer life. You thought wrong. That 6-point scale is going to come up more than a few times in your prayer time. I'm kidding; the 6-point scale seems intimidating at first, but you will be more than prepared to handle it. I promise! You are going to be fine! Take a breath and get down to business :)
- Hebrew: Hebrew is a direct result of the Fall. We can all collectively thank Alexander the Great for making sure that at least half of God's Word was written in a tolerable language.
- Hebrew revisited: ...fine. I'm kidding again. Hebrew isn't THAT bad. In fact, there is no feeling quite like translating Hebrew. You just feel like a boss when it starts to click. The languages can be particularly intimidating to those (like me) who didn’t major in anything remotely close to biblical studies in undergrad (music theatre for me). You will get them. Enjoy the privilege of learning the original languages of Scripture!
- The Bubble: You now reside on the "Holy Hill" of Gordon-Conwell. Be sure to get off campus and interact with normal people every now and again. After all, it is to just such people that you are called to minister. Just remember that the average person doesn't speak Seminarian. So if you can't have a conversation without dropping cool-kid phrases like "Actually, Matthew is leveraging a common hermeneutical principal by employing typological lenses with reference to prophetical literature, thereby creating multiple layers of interpretive fruit"...the average person will ignore you, or hate you, or both.
- Electives: Don't blow them on a "maybe this could be cool" kind of course. If you aren't positive that this is THE class for you and your future ministry, save that elective until you are sure. Worst-case scenario is having a ton of electives your last year and having the unfortunate *cough* need to fill them with independent studies (*hint*).
- Audits: Use them.
- Pass/Fails: Use these too. There are several philosophies of leveraging the pass/fail. Ask around. My thoughts are to wait until you have a particularly slammed semester to do so to loosen the workload on an assignment heavy course.
- Reading Weeks: I have dedicated an entire blog post to strategizing for these guys. Check it out here.
- Calling: Remember why you came to seminary. Chances are you feel an affinity if not an outright calling to a ministry of some type. When you get bogged down, just keep in mind why you are working so hard. Let your calling encourage you without burdening you.
- Rest: You are not a machine. Ministry is not about who can handle the most work. Remember your identity is first and foremost a beloved child of God. Take time to rest (Sabbath anyone?) in this. The habits you form here will be the habits you have after graduating.
I think that’ll get you started. I look forward to meeting all of you! I’m the loud one during lunch and dinner, so feel free to stop by.
Tim Norton is a born-and-raised, small-town Southerner with the sweet tea addiction to prove it. He comes to Gordon-Conwell as a Kern Pastor-Scholar and plans to pursue pastoral ministry in the U.S. after graduation. Tim is a big personality with a strange affinity for the color orange. Currently, he attends GENESIS Church, an Acts 29 church plant in Woburn, MA.
Author: Tim Norton