A Word to New Seminary Graduates

RPTS_grads_group-1I have noticed via my social media that several seminaries that I love and respect have had commencement recently. Others are still preparing for their commencement ceremonies.

Congratulations. The pursuit of theological education is a great endeavor--for laypeople and church leaders alike.

As I reflect on my own previous commencement ceremonies, I am reminded of one of the besetting sins of those who have received formal training in the science of theology and divinity:

Pride.

In 1741, Jonathan Edwards addressed the divinity students at Yale as they were sent into the Colonies and beyond with the gospel of free grace. Among his plethora of words to the newly-minted divines (the published commencement address is over 75 pages), he called them to reflect on their view of self as they ministered the one who gave up all things for the sake of the church. He called them to consider whether they were promoting His kingdom or something else.

Edwards said:

We...need...in a special manner to keep a strict and jealous eye upon our own hearts, lest there should arise self-exalting reflections upon what we have received, and high thoughts of ourselves, as being now some of the most eminent of saints and peculiar favorites of heaven, and that the secret of the Lord is especially with us. Let us not presume, that we above all are fit to be advanced as the great instructors and censors of this evil generation; and, in a high conceit of our own wisdom and discerning, assume to ourselves the airs of prophets, or extraordinary ambassadors of heaven. When we have great discoveries of God made to our souls, we should not shine bright in our own eyes.

Hard words, but wise.

Pride is among our struggles.

As you begin your ministry or as you go back into your context of ministry with some letters after your name, remember to look to the one who humbled himself and took the form of the servant. Minister means servant after all! Serve the church with the tools that you have been given, for they are for His Kingdom.