I came across a lengthy, but superb, post over at Per Crucem ad Lucem. It is a series of reflections by Bishop William Willimon on Advice for Young Pastors. (Ok, I know I said in my last post that Andrew Purves is one of my favourite pastoral theologians–and he is. But Willimon is right up there, too!)
I won’t comment much on it here, but I especially appreciated point #7 under the section entitled, “The Church’s World” giving a bit of rationale on why seminaries make you read so much when you are preparing for ministry. I quote that section here to whet your appetite.
7. I pray that you studied hard in seminary, read widely, thought deeply because you are going to need all of that if you are going to stay long as a leader of the church. Your life would be infinitely easier and less complicated if God had called you to be an accountant or a seminary professor. Most of the stuff that you read in seminary will only prepare you really to grow and to develop after you leave seminary. Think of your tough transition into the parish as the beginning, not the end, of your adventure into real growth as a minister. Theology tends to be wasted on the young. It’s only when you run into a complete dead end in the parish, when you are aging and tired and fed up with the people of God (and maybe even God too) that you need to know where to go to have a good conversation with some saint in order to make it through the night. Believe it or not, it’s much easier to beg in in the ministry, even considering the tough transition between seminary and the parish, than it is to continue in ministry. A winning smile, a pleasing personality, a winsome way with people, none of these are enough to keep you working with Jesus, preaching the Word, nurturing the flock, looking for the lost. Only God can do that and a major way God does that is through the prayerful, intense reading, study and reflection that you can only begin in three or four years of seminary.