By Jessica Jenkins
Being an only child I have always enjoyed a good journey. I have been known to get in my car and take a drive with no destination in sight. As long as I have my emergency cash, license, and a full tank of gas I am down for an adventure. And most of the time I have no desire for people to join me. It is just me, the open road and excitement ahead.
Thinking about an adventure is exactly what I would classify this journey through seminary. This adventure has been paved with excitement, nervousness, doubt, thought provoking challenges, discovery and so much more. Entering into Central Seminary I had a limited idea of what this would entail. I had some people tell me that there was a good chance that I would come out of this and no longer desire to be a Christian. Or that I would come out of this with nothing but head knowledge and lose the heart of the faith. There was a lot of concern for me as a new Christian entering into the theological amphitheater unsure about the battle that awaited me on the other side. And I must say that every step of this journey has been a battle. From moving away from the only home that I have ever known, to being in a new land by myself. Fighting to stay financially stable and emotionally sane in finding work and managing school.
Yet I was, and still am, convinced that God will usher me through this journey. He has yet to leave me hanging. And now entering my third (and what I pray to be my final year) of school I can speak from experience about three most important things I feel I have learned.
Number one, seminary is not for every Christian, but reading and living out the Bible is. Through this journey I have seen friends walk away from seminary, for many different reasons. However, God has them out doing amazing things in ministry. I have friends that are ordained, starting churches, writing books, and starting God centered organizations and businesses with no seminary training. The seminary education does not make or break your destined path. But on the flip-side of that I have learned that my path does include the completion of this program. The knowledge and growth that I have experienced as apart of this program has helped me to mature in my relationship and understanding of God.
Number two, be open but stand firm. I know that one sounds like an oxymoron. But let me explain. Simply put, you will not agree with everything that your professors or your classmates bring up. Remember, we all come from different denominations, backgrounds, cultures, and life experiences. Apart of the learning process and growing means hearing and understanding different views. But you should know and understand what you believe. The thing that seminary has taught me is not only to understand but to be able to back up or defend what I say I believe. Do not be tossed around, pray, learn, and listen to the Holy Spirits leading about what you should believe. I have experienced some annoyed stares and grunts the first time I stood firm on a belief and expressed that in a small group class discussion. I thought that I was gonna be crucified. And some of my classmate definitely did not speak to me as much as usual once I expressed me view. But I just knew that it was something that we could agree to disagree on, we all respectfully moved on.
Last but certainly not least, HAVE FUN! Enjoy the experience of new thoughts, ideas, and even the challenges. Having my faith tested, having to defined my beliefs, and learning to find the voice that God gave me has been a great journey. It will be tough. You may cry. You may even want to give up. But I guarantee you that the journey is well worth it.
So if seminary is your next step then go for it. And if not, you can still do all that God desires you to do. So pack your Bible, start your engine and see where God takes you.
Jessica Jenkins is a third year MDiv student in the Women’s Leadership Initiative cohort in Nashville, Tennessee.