Semper Reformanda

...some days even my lucky rocketship underpants don't help.

[Thursday, August 26, 2010]

Why pursue a Masters of Divinity?

I was hanging out with some friends last night, and the question got asked why I was pursuing my Masters of Divinity. In the context of the conversation, they were comparing the MDiv to a Masters of Arts in Theology which is a much less intensive (and less expensive) degree. I feel like I answered the question well, but I thought I'd take a few moments to reflect further on my decision.

First of all, I need to define some things:

Master of Arts in Theological Studies:
~60 credit hours
Can be completed as a part-time student (night classes, and increasingly more online classes)
Lots of electives makes for very flexible scheduling
Intended for people not pursuing vocational ministry

Master of Divinity:
~106 credit hours
Requires both Greek and Hebrew language study
Requires being a full-time student, taking day classes (cannot be done at night)
Intended for people pursuing pastoral or other vocational ministry

I started in the MA program because at the time I had no ability to attend full-time, and wasn't even really thinking about vocational ministry. I was a homeowner and had a good job. I didn't really see myself as a pastor, so the MDiv just didn't seem to fit. However, through my studies, interactions with students, and relationships I'd built at church my thoughts began to change. I was speaking with a friend of mine, a student, and it just came to me... I needed to be at school full-time. That set in motion a series of events which led me to where I am now. See, somewhere in those few semesters that I was attending school at night, working, and volunteering at my church, my thoughts on ministry and my role in it changed. I began to outgrow my mold, I began to change and reevaluate who I was and what I should be. I began to question my beliefs and opened myself to change.

I don't think seminary is for everyone. I'm surrounded by great pastors and leaders very few of which have seminary or bible college training, and I am extremely blessed to know them and have learned quite a bit from them. I also don't think the MDiv is for everyone. There are many seminaries offering many great programs for people desiring training and further study.

However, the question is: Why am I pursuing a Masters of Divinity when it would be adequate and more economically beneficial to do a MA or even just doing interships or "on-the-job" training?

Desire -- I've wanted to get a MDiv for a pretty long time (albeit for different reasons, but it's been a desire nonetheless).

I'm an idiot -- Knowledge isn't everything, but it sure is something. I can definitely benefit from the education. I like the depth that the MDiv goes into versus the MA. Instead of focusing on survey work (MA), the MDiv focuses more on scripture exegesis. There is also a larger focus on teaching and public speaking, which I NEED HELP WITH!!!

Personality type -- I like to take things slow and make sure I'm overly prepared for things (that's why I show up 3 hours early to things and am a bit concerned about being on-time). Believe it or not, 106 credits for a masters degree might seem like a lot to you, but to me it sounds just right.

Call -- I've seen enough of God's fingerprints on my story surrounding seminary thus far that I'm comfortable in saying that I'm in the right place for the time being.

Proof Texting -- The seminary itself has been a confirmation that its the right place for me. Through relationships with the students and the professor's hearts and minds, I've honestly been quite amazed and pleased.

Discernment -- Believe it or not, I'm not good at making decisions (about some things). I'm looking forward to these next ~3 years as a way of figuring out where I fit into this big story, and how I can best use my talents and gifts for the kingdom.

Time management -- I was getting pulled in so many directions as a part-time student. I had my professional responsibilities, my church responsibilities, and my school responsibilities... plus a social life! Going full-time actually de-stresses my life and allows me to focus on one thing.

Well, tomorrow is day 1 of the Fall semester for me. I'm really looking forward to it, and excited to see what the future holds. Thank you for joining me on this journey and being an important part of what makes me... me. Who would have thought that I'd be where I am today, considering where I came from?


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