I thought I had you figured out

…or why I like second year of seminary more than first year…
Community takes time. It takes investment, it takes patience and it takes continuity. It’s almost impossible to be able to say to someone, “You don’t seem like yourself today,” if you’ve only known them for a week. Which is why, even in an intense community situation as seminary is, I repeat myself – Community takes time.
This second year of seminary comes with a lot more responsibility on my shoulders. Not to mention I’ve traveled/am traveling quite a bit which means that although I’m in week 4 of classes, I have yet to have a full week of class and yet to find a rhythm. I know that a lot of people say that ministry is a lot like this, which is true, but there comes a point where I think to myself that maybe I’ve taken a little too much on this year.
So when I woke up this morning feeling less than great the thought crossed my mind that maybe I could miss class to get better. However, I missed this class last week, so I pulled myself out of bed, got it together and went to class. Now, this particular class is probably on of my favorites to date here at NPTS, but this morning the two and a half hours of lecture and switching between Greek and Hebrew was giving me a massive headache. I knew that I wasn’t participating the way that I should be but I could barely keep up with discussion must less add in my ideas. At the end of class, as I was packing up, I glanced up and made eye contact with my professor. He softly asked me if I was doing alright.
Now this particular professor is one of the most pastoral minded people I have ever met. He has this way of checking in with you that is so consistent and caring without being too intrusive or annoying. So when he asks if I’m doing alright, I know that the facade I tried to put on this morning was unsuccessful. This professor knows the things I’m involved with in the seminary community, knows that I was out of town last week and knows that usually I am much more vocal than I was today. He followed up to ask me if I was getting caught up okay to which I simply replied that I was working on it. He made the observation that I was a bit more low key than usual today.
In a conversation that lasted a total of about 20 seconds he expressed so much care and concern for my well being that I walked into the hall feeling a tad bit better. This is the product of taking the time to build community. He takes the time to get to know the lives of his students well enough to know exactly when to ask and when to push.
The thing that is so great about our community here is that all our teachers are like this. They all take the time to invest in us, to teach us, to pray for us and to be involved in our lives. They learn the details of our lives in order to figure out how to teach us better, how to care for us better. It’s an amazing thing that happens after you’ve spent a year in class with them and enter into your second year. I can’t imagine what third year will bring next year.
So what’s our response to this care and compassion shown to us by these faculty and staff members? The obvious is to do our homework and pay attention in class. The less obvious is to live in a way that it shows that we have been taught well. To go into ministry fighting for the things that matter and standing on the foundation of the Gospel. To invest in ourselves and our education.
All this to say, the first year of seminary is great too, but second year…yeah, second year is good.

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