My Embarrassing First Day at Seminary

Twenty years ago this September I attended my first day of seminary. I was serving as youth pastor at a church in Burbank, CA at the time, and figured if I was going to continue pastoring, I should get some theological training. So here I was headed back to school three years after graduating from college.

I opted to go to Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, CA to work on my biblical languages first. They offered language intensives where you could take a full year of Greek or Hebrew in just ten weeks. I decided to take Greek in the fall and Hebrew in the spring. So off I went to Greek class in September of 1987, my very first day at seminary. (I eventually transferred to Gordon-Conwell in Massachusetts the next year and completed my seminary training there.)

I was a little nervous going back to school after three years, so I tried to prepare myself the best I could. I got my syllabus early and purchased all my textbooks in advance. I scoped out the campus the week before and found exactly where my classroom was located. I packed my briefcase full of books and left extra early the morning of class to make sure I got there on time.

We all crowded into the classroom, and the professor introduced himself to the class. He wrote his contact information on the board and told us to write it down for future reference. I opened up my briefcase to get out a notebook when I realized that I didn’t have one. In all my preparations for class I had forgotten to get a notebook. I searched frantically through my briefcase for a piece of paper, any piece of paper, but I had none – just a bunch of Greek textbooks that I didn’t want to write in.

I got the attention of the student seated at the desk next to me. “Excuse, me. Could I borrow a piece of paper?” He looked at me a little strangely, but opened up his three-ring binder FILLED with college-ruled white paper and gave me several sheets.

I was so embarrassed. Here I was at my first day of class for my Master’s degree of all things, and I had not even brought any paper. “Oh well, Lord,” I prayed, “I guess it’s good to be humbled.” I opened my briefcase again to get out a pen to write down the teacher’s contact information. No pen. I got the attention of the student next to me again. “Excuse me, could I borrow a pen?”

That’s all I remember from my first day at seminary. But God is good, and I got through, and yes, it is good to be humbled.

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  1. Margaret says:

    Enjoyed reading about your first day at Seminary! It’s good to be humbled! Dr. Barnhouse was once quoted as saying to a friend:- “Hey, have you read my latest book on humility? It’s the greatest.”

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  1. A Little Poem on Learning Greek at Ray Fowler .org

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