Since my second semester of college, I have pursued a certain path. That semester, an adjunct professor talked to me after a class called Introduction to Christian Ministry and highly encouraged me to keep up with my studies, let nothing stop me, and one day complete a Ph.D. He thought I was intellectually capable and had a lot to offer to the world of academia (and beyond) all that from a couple of hours a week in an introductory ministry course.
Ever since then, that has been my path. Well, I will say that I am pretty sure I was already on that path before he said that, but he certainly did nothing to dissuade me from putting that “Dr.” in front of my name. I idolized my college professors. Not necessarily any one of them particularly, but the group of them who were in the building that taught in my Biblical Studies major. They worked hard to stay abreast of their respective academic interests, they cared deeply for their students, and they spent their Sundays as church deacons, interim pastors, Sunday school teachers, or on church staff part-time at little and not-so-little churches around our county and beyond.
And I wanted to do all of that, too.
Seminary was a disappointment for me. Mostly because my undergraduate professors did such a good job of imparting the kind of education one goes to seminary to gain. I could have gone to a school that offered advanced standing for those with biblical studies undergraduate degrees. I could have gone to one that offered a wide variety of electives and specialties. But I didn’t. I went to a small school with two tracks: the track designed for a pastor, and the track that took the pastor track and removed the preaching and language components.
So I was bitter and frustrated most of the way through seminary. It didn’t really dawn on me until I was in a Greek exegesis course in seminary (after 18 hours of Greek as an undergrad – there wasn’t much new here for me), and I discovered how much I truly dislike Greek exegesis. I understood the need for it. I understood WHAT to do and even HOW to do it. I just did not understand why I should do it.
It’s only taken another four years for me to realize that the same goes for a Ph.D. I understand the need for it. I understand what and how. I even understand why – at least for other people. It’s just not for me. And I have finally been able to let go of striving for it. It’s wonderful to be free of the burden of the next degree, the next step toward finally achieving what I was “destined” to achieve.