My classmates are impressive. They are a godly, studious, and eloquent group of folks.
This has been accentuated during summer school as I’ve had the privilege to get to know some of them better.
This sounds cheesy, but I just smile when I look at them. The potential (and present!) Kingdom impact is astounding. Each day of class I am shaped by not only their knowledge, but also their passion.
For example, there is this one guy with whom I’ve had a couple of classes, and his passion for the Lord is uncanny. A few weeks ago I was talking to him after class and the prof walks by and says, “Have a good weekend.” My friend responds, “Praise the Lord!” Where did that come from? I love it–spontaneous praise; something I could learn from. He’s already serving in a local church, and I know he’ll continue to be a great pastor.
The same could be said of so many of my other classmates. They will make great pastors, teachers, missionaries, and church leaders. What a privilege to study with them for just a few years before we go our separate ways.
This leads me to a quandary: why don’t we network more? I’ll be honest, after being in full-time ministry for a number of years, I am totally convinced that I need others! I’m looking for partners in the Gospel. People who share a passion for faithfully handling the Word and pointing people to Christ. I’m looking for guest preachers, guest teachers, and pastors and counselors to whom I can feel comfortable referring people.
This is perhaps one of the biggest shifts in my approach to schooling compared with undergrad. In undergrad I wanted to meet people just to have friends and have fun. Now my desire is to have friends to partner with in ministry (which, I would argue, is fun–but more than that 🙂 )!
Seminary is not just about the grade! It’s about the people and relationships that will affect your ministry for years to come.
How do we do bring about this benevolent web of relationships?
(No doubt the advice below is something I need to heed just as much as the next person.)
1. Be open and proactive in meeting people. — One of my friends had a bunch of credit at the on-campus eatery–more than he could use in 2 days. As a result, he invited a bunch of people from our class to a free lunch. He (and those that could attend) built up some good relationships therein. Now that’s using worldly wealthy wisely (Luke 16:9,11) 😉 !
2. Find out their story. — My new line when I meet people is, “So what’s your story?” Although I might sound like an interrogator, I just mean to find out where God has led them, and where He might be leading them in the future. People generally like to talk about themselves, so this is usually well-received.
3. Stay connected. — I made some great friendships in college. I thought I’d stay in touch with them forever. I haven’t. I keep with only a handful of my college crew. How does one stay connected? One idea is to leverage Facebook. It’s non-invasive and frequently updated nature makes it a convenient way to stay in touch. Through Facebook one can see how friends are doing as well as send the occasion wall message or poke.
I don’t want to squander my time at seminary; these few years will probably shape the tone and trajectory of my ministry for the rest of my life. One way I can guard against wasting my time here is by getting and staying connected with my classmates. Unify to glorify! 😉