Top 3 Things I Learned at Northeastern Seminary
A post by guest blogger, Glen Dornsife, M.Div. '13:
When I entered seminary a few years ago, I felt compelled to learn more about Christ, the Church, and my vocation. As my time at Northeastern Seminary draws to an end, I decided to take a few moments and reflect on what I have learned. (Unfortunately, none of the following remarks were drawn from BHT 512. I encourage you to register for the class yourself to gain the full experience.)
It is not what I have learned from my education, but how I now learn as a result of it.
When I first started at Northeastern Seminary, I have to admit, being in an ecumenical setting was somewhat distracting to me, especially when someone’s opinion conflicted with the classroom discussion. Over time, I became very grateful listening to the professors respond, facilitate, and curate the conversations filled with varying perspectives. Following in the dust of great theological teachers over the past few years has influenced the posture I now carry. When we take a posture of learning into any situation we bring with us a very open and enhanced perception. This posture has enabled me to not only add value to a given moment but to be enriched by many unexpected moments as well.
Speaking of perception…
It is not how I communicate the message, but what message I communicate.
I remember one time spending a good 30 minutes in class dialoguing over one of Eugene Peterson’s cautions directed toward future ministers in his book, Working the Angles. Peterson challenges his readers to be aware of how our culture is becoming more and more visually oriented and, as a result, our capacities to listen to others and hear the Word are diminishing. While this point will always carry some truth to it, I am not sure if anyone will be arguing whether or not it’s applicable or relevant 30 years from now. The seminary has provided an education that has deeply rooted me in the living historical message of the Church, thus preparing me to be faithfully responsive in conveying this message in whatever form of expression I choose. (Later in class, after this excited discussion ended, our professor transitioned into the lecture … and taught from PowerPoint! ; )
It is not what I accomplish; it is what I become.
Despite confidently blurting out “I want to accomplish great things for Christ” in the middle of a spiritual formation class one day, I have learned since that heroic moment that Christ does not actually expect this of me. God’s primary concern is what I become, not what I accomplish. For Dallas Willard, in reference to discipleship, he would say it is not about what we do, but how we do it. Though I still have lofty goals, my aim is not to be the founder of a great church or non-profit organization, or to be published several times over while spending most of my weekends traveling the country to speak at conferences. My aim now, as a result of my education, is to live daily in the fellowship of Christ and with others, living a life that evokes faith in those I meet. And that I, like Paul, may become more like Christ as I share in the sufferings and bear with one another’s burdens.
Unfortunately this short list of what I have learned doesn’t even being to break the surface. This has been a formative experience like no other. I am forever grateful for this opportunity and intend to faithfully steward the education I have received at Northeastern Seminary.
Glen Dornsife, M.Div. '13