I am in the process of finishing up my M.Div from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I want to share with you 5 sentences that made seminary worth every penny. Sure, I got a great education. And, of course, that was my primary goal in going to seminary. But I also received a lot of wisdom that impacted my life and ministry in awesome ways. Many of these lessons can be summed up in one sentence.
1. “Boys, it’s a good thing to think about God.” -Dr. Tom Nettles
I loved Dr. Nettles’ classes. He was extremely kind and godly. He is also probably in the top five most intelligent people I have encountered. His spoken sentences could have been transcribed directly into books. It was amazing what a command of the Bible and theological concepts Dr. Nettles has.
Once Dr. Nettles was lecturing on Edwards’ understanding of the Trinity. At some point, after a few laps where we kept up, Dr. Nettles turned the jets on and lapped us all about two times. He then looked at us and laughed at our obviously distraught faces. “Boys,” he said, “it’s a good thing to think about God.” I say that sentence all the time because it perfectly encapsulates for me what I am often trying to get across as a preacher: this hurts the brain, but it’s good for us to think about God.
2. “That’s nothing one failed pastorate won’t fix.” -Dr. Hershael York
This line impacted me greatly because it reminded me that God was shaping me in seminary to be a pastor who could have a long, impactful ministry. York reminded us regularly in class to be careful and wise in the way we lead our church.
He would often tell us stories of young bucks who refused to heed advice. He said he would tell them over and over that they needed to adjust here, soften here, harden there. Finally, he would tell them, “Well, that’s nothing one failed pastorate won’t fix.”
3. “Raising children together IS intimacy.” -Dr. Russell Moore
How can you pick one Dr. Moore quote? It is hard, to be sure, but I remember this quote very often. Right now, we have two children under two. Needless to say, there’s not a lot of regular “us” time at the Alexander household. Dr. Moore did a consistently awesome job of drawing seminarians like myself out of selfishness and toward Christ-like leadership. However, I realized when I heard him say this what an odd understanding of intimacy I had. We don’t have to be doing romantic things to foster intimacy in our marriage. Working together on raising children and making a home IS intimacy. It is amazing how, as I look at it now, God has used that one little quote to make me treasure my wife even more as we devote tons of time and energy to little ones rather than feeling alienated from here.
4. “The leadership that matters most is convictional.” -Dr. Albert Mohler
Dr. Mohler has influenced me in countless ways, but this concept has been particularly formative. Dr. Mohler taught a night class during the time he was writing “The Conviction to Lead.” It was the perfect storm of awesome stuff: Mohler, crystallizing ideas for a book, talking about leadership, and doing it all at night, which is (by his own admission) his best time of the day. I loved the class.
But not only was the class fun, it was ministry-shaping. For the first time, leadership became a category that I was really comfortable thinking about. I had heard people talk about it all the time, but it was usually in secular terms which had been warmed up and christened. Mohler totally changed that for me when he rooted leadership in conviction. That class–and especially that sentence–has impacted my ministry tremendously.