I don’t frequently use this blog as a means of sharing personal information. It’s more of an outlet for my thoughts and musings on what I’m learning and experiencing related to God, theology, and life. But since this is something that deserves some explanation and I want to make it available to a large audience (since I know that a lot of people are invested in me and care about my future), this seemed like the best way.
For the last year I’ve been attending Fuller Seminary online from here in Oklahoma City. This was my original school of choice for my Master’s after SNU. The reason I delayed moving out to California, where the school is located, was primarily money-based. I had cheap living and a bankable income at a job I enjoyed here in OK, and had neither of those things lined up for me in CA. In addition, I was nervous about starting over in a new place, with no friends, connections or contacts. I would complete the first year online and move out there in the Fall of 2012.
As the year went by, the inevitable happened. I began to become very attached to OKC. I began building more relationships and loyalties now as a graduate actively involved in culture. I changed churches and began to be a part of OKC First Church of the Nazarene, which has been incredible and life-changing for me. It began to look less and less appealing to say goodbye to all of these things for California. I began to explore the option of transferring to NTS (Nazarene Theological Seminary), which I could do through a module program at SNU, which I still live near.
For a while I was entirely 50/50 on these two choices. And honestly, for a while, I was leaning toward NTS. It is definitely the more comfortable choice for me. As I’ve said, I’ve built something of a life out here, and to leave will truly be to tear myself away.
But a lot of things have been swirling around my brain lately. I’ve been praying for clarity, and lately I think I’ve gotten it. I watched as my friends graduated from the same program I graduated from just over one year ago, and I was forced to think about where I am compared to where I was, and to remember what my undergrad education meant to me.
And it occurred to me that I have really been approaching this decision wrongly. I’ve been thinking about which one is best for me in the long run, which I think is how most people approach these kinds of decisions. And that’s what made it so hard – is it better for me to get a better education (Fuller), or to maintain connections, relationships, and comfort (NTS)? – and both seemed to have significant weight and importance to me and my future.
But I was reminded of something Dr. Crutcher told all of us incoming freshman in the theology department five years ago. It was early on, before we were broken in, and while I don’t think I always lived it out, this thought resurfaced many times through my academic career. He told us that, as future ministers, our education mattered most not to us, but to our future parishioners. Every little bit we can manage to learn, every extra book we can read, every class session we can attend, can make a difference later on when a parishioner comes to us with something important, or we struggle to make sense of a text we are preaching on. I remember thinking that our situation was similar to those in the nursing and medical programs – every little bit they learn can save someone’s life.
And frankly, I’d rather have the doctor that went to the better school.. and truly, I’d rather have the Pastor that went to the better Seminary. This is nothing against NTS, I think it’s a great school, and great men and women and pastors have come out of that school. But right now, for me, the kind of student I am and the kind of pastor I want to be, Fuller is the better school. I will be challenged more, I will learn more, I will learn better… and that is why I chose it to begin with.
So for this reason, and lots of others, I will be attending Fuller Theological Seminary as a resident student in September of this year. Thanks to everyone who helped me make this decision, it wasn’t an easy one. My parents were incredibly patient and supportive every time I called home to tell them where I was at with it. They have always helped me think through things clearly and correctly, and even supported me when I wasn’t. My friends were great as well, asking me the tough questions and not letting me get away with any bad thinking or decision-making. Daniel, Carson and Garron have listened to me babble about this decision for far too many hours, from the time that I was 100% going to Fuller, 50-50, 90% going to NTS, and now back to my 100% commitment to Fuller. And Carson single-handedly saved me from turning that 90% NTS into a 100% before I had really thought through it. And I have to thank the professors I’ve stayed in contact with since graduation. Dr. Dunnington and Dr. Michelson have become great friends and pushed me to keep thinking, keep working, and keep stay grounded. And even though we haven’t stayed in great contact, Dr. Crutcher spoke with me at graduation and it was that conversation that brought to mind the conviction that my education was more valuable to me than I had given it credit for. And mostly, I guess I thank God, for giving me some final clarity on this. It took a while… and I felt like I really wrestled with God on this one, and we reached a place we are mutually satisfied with. Thanks to everyone I didn’t mention, and wish me luck. It’s going to be scary. I have no job lined up, no church I’m set on being involved with, no place in mind to live, etc. But that will come. It only gets more and more interesting from here.
…here I come.