In the Fall of 2019, I started discussing with my new husband the prospect of attending seminary. I had been in pursuit of theological education since the time I came to Christ but I was eager for something more. I wanted the intensity and academic rigor of a Masters of Divinity program. At the time, I was not pregnant. In the Lord’s providence, just a few months later, I was pregnant with our first child and accepted into the online Master of Divinity program at Midwestern Seminary.
When pursuing any higher education, the question most people ask is, “What are you going to do with your degree?” Although I do have dreams and goals for continued education, writing, and teaching, my primary reason for going to seminary was not rooted in a career path. In fact, just before the birth of our baby, I quit my full time job to be a stay-at-home mom.
What good is a seminary degree for a mom? In answering that question, I have five reasons why I decided to go to seminary.
1. So that God’s Word would be at work in me (Isaiah 55:11)
Now let’s be clear, you do not need a seminary degree for God’s Word to be at work in you. But for me, God’s work in my life looked like a trajectory headed straight for formal theological training.
When my husband and I prayed over and discussed this decision, we came to the conclusion that even if I never made a dollar from this education, the goodness that it should produce in me would be enough for us. In earnest pursuit of understanding and loving God’s Word, what I learned would not return void. We knew that a deeper knowledge of Scripture, through the power of the Spirit, would cultivate in me a Christlikeness that made me a better wife, mother, church member, and Christian.
Our hope was that through the labor of schooling, I would become a more equipped discipler of my children and a more gracious and godly woman. Seminary was worth it for our family because my husband trusted that studying God’s Word would help me grow in maturity and wisdom that was rooted in Christ.
2. Because the calling was affirmed by church leadership
When I started seminary, I had been faithful to attend and volunteer at every theological training option available in my local church. I was committed to our body (still am!) and our leadership knew me well. They were capable of making a wise judgment about my desire to attend seminary because they had taught me themselves. They had also seen me serve our body through teaching and volunteering. Your pastors may not always be well acquainted with your academic abilities, but they should be acquainted with your character and service. Thankfully, my leadership was well aware of all three. When I came to them with the desire, they were able to counsel me in the right direction. Their encouragement helped me know that the pursuit of continued education would prove beneficial and edifying.
3. For the purpose of serving my church body (1 Corinthians 14:12)
I love to teach. Specifically, I love to teach Scripture. I remember when I first came to know Christ, I would do a study with my pastor’s wife on Wednesday and teach it to a Bible study group with my volleyball team on Thursday. That may not be the best method for well equipped teachers, but it does attest to my love for learning and teaching God’s Word.
As I’ve grown in my faith, that gifting has been affirmed and I’ve had the privilege of teaching in more formal capacities within our church body. My love for and desire to teach was quickly followed by feelings of biblical responsibility. I understand the need to teach the Word correctly (2 Timothy 2:15). Because of my desire to honor Christ through rightly handling the word of truth, seminary seemed like the most logical and fruitful next step in my education. Although my role in our church may never be lucrative financially, it is a privilege to serve our church body and to be fully equipped to teach and disciple those God has entrusted to me. This is not to say we cannot serve our church without a seminary degree — that’s definitely not true! Scripture calls us to serve no matter our gifting (1 Corinthians 14:12). For me, pursuing seminary was a choice made to bolster my ability to teach and disciple in the respective roles God has given me.
4. To pave the way for other women in my sphere of influence
At the time I was considering applying for seminary, I knew one other woman who was pursuing a Master of Divinity degree. She lives a thousand miles from me. She is a champion of women’s formal theological education and she helped show me that it was possible and fruitful for a woman to pursue a seminary degree. I recognized that there may be women for whom I could be that way-maker.
I want those around me to have a theology of women in the church that is robust, while operating within God’s given standards. That may look like a seminary education for some of the women around me. I wanted to go before the women God has placed in my life and show them that there is a place for women to be formally theologically educated and that they too can properly exposit God’s Word. Since starting the program, this ideal has proven to be true! Someone has to go first. In my church, that person is me.
5. Because I love to learn about Scripture
Seminary was the next step for me because I love to learn. Biblical theology has been a point of excitement, rejuvenation, and joy in my life since very early in my Christian walk. We would finish classes at my church and I would be desperate for more. I loved the idea of being challenged to handle difficult passages and learn about church history.
For me, seminary just made sense. This point has proven to be so true. I love seminary. I miss it when we have breaks. I am energized and excited by what I’m learning every week. I love the flexibility provided by the online program which allows me to take time off when I give birth or for other familial needs. I love it! I am a stay at home. I am also a full-time seminary student. It has been a special gift and privilege for me.
These five reasons for applying for seminary are not the only things to consider when making that decision (finances, time constraints, other responsibilities), but these five reasons are why we said yes. The fruit speaks for itself. It has been exponentially worth it for us! If you’re considering applying for seminary, I am the first to say that women should be formally theologically educated. Maybe seminary is a pursuit for you, too.
For more information about Midwestern Seminary’s Master of Divinity program and other masters studies (online or on campus), visit www.mbts.edu/degrees/masters-studies.