Seminary Update: What Does This Mean?

I wanted to make a brief update for all of the private messages, texts, and e-mails that I have received about what I am doing this fall so here it is:

The Goods

I have been accepted back into Concordia Lutheran Seminary this year into a program of full-time studies. I begin classes formally on Sept 18, at about 1pm. I will be serving as a Field Worker at Riverbend Lutheran Church for the year. Whether I am allowed to go on Vicarage will depend upon my performance this year, and I am expected to return for a year of coursework the year after that.

What Does this Mean?

This means that I will be taking full time classes (3 courses each semester) at the Seminary and attempting to fulfill my extra-curricular Seminary obligations, which would make anyone quite busy. Further, due to the disastrous year that my wife and I have had financially, both Vanessa and I need to work full time in order to keep out obligations in check. This is going to be a murderous burden upon my family and me. Further, this means that I am in the process of resigning from all of the various boards and groups that I am involved in so that I may concentrate upon what is most important – my studies and my family.

This also means that I won’t be able to do practically any work towards finishing my more “secular” M.A. while I work to complete this M.Div. I’m not sure at this time what the implications of that will be, but I plan on making contact with people at the university who can help me through the process – I have been incredibly blessed with amazing mentors and Professors there that would kneel in broken glass for their students I am sure.

Also, I have been working with my place of employment and the fantastic management team there and they have agreed to allow me to disappear as often as is necessary to take classes when they are offered and still keep my job. I am still going to be required to work my normal 40 hours, but can finish some of it on weekends and evenings. However, this comes with some problems, as my place of work has allowed me the semester to sit down with them and decide whether this is going to work, but I have just been informed by the Seminary that they will review whether this is working in a month’s time after classes begin. If this does not work out for whatever reason, I seriously have no idea what I would do, as I cannot make it financially without being gainfully employed.

The Meat

This is a great blessing to my family and to me. However, this does come with many apparent burdens and many hardships that I am sure I won’t understand until I am knee deep in this semester. I feel that it is important to continue to see the psychologist that I am seeing, continue to be diligent in how I am eating and my workouts, and somehow give my family as much of my time as I can.

In short, I am terrified. At the beginning of the Seminary Retreat last week, I was so scared that I was quite literally shaking. I don’t want to mess this up as I have in the past. I don’t want to let my past actions and attitudes define me in the present, and thus define some part of my future. But most importantly, I want the changes that I have worked all of these years to incorporate into myself to be real and not for show. I believe that they are, I believe that I am healthier physically, spiritually, and emotionally than I have perhaps ever been, and I want to make sure that no one gets the impression that I am just putting on a show or doing the “cooperate and graduate” thing.

I want to be a Pastor more than anything. But I do not want to be a Pastor who through my arrogance or attitude hurts the people that I would be called to serve and love. Every person whom I have spoken with over the years that have fallen away from the faith have a story that tells of how a Pastor through their callousness and sin, convinced them that the love of God and the Church was a lie. I want to do everything I can to not be someone’s story, with the help of God.

I have been so wrong in my approach and attitude since the beginning of my journey. I made myself into an idol and convinced myself that it was through my own powers, such as they are, that I would make it through to the Office of the Holy Ministry. Frankly, some part of me thought that it was through these powers that I could heal the Church and help God save people. I was (am?) a fool. I repent and recant.

Please pray for me. Please pray for my beloved Seminary and its Faculty. Please pray for my wife and family. And for those of you for whom prayer is foreign, please reach out to my family and support them. Please be a friend to me, I will need it. Please just be there.

Thank you.

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