Lesson #7 – Graduating is a Community Effort
If it is true that “It takes a village to raise a child” then the same could be said about graduating from grad school. There has been only two semesters since I have been at Main Street where I have not been involved in some type of graduate school. The elders, parents, teens and members have all embraced me as I continue my education. To say, “I could not have done this without you,” is more than a simple cliche…it is a FACT!!! Sharing ideas, thoughts, prayers, sermons all have made Main Street my, should I say, laboratory sort-of-speak. It allows me to see what works, what fails and what we may never know about. Anyone taking theology should be involved in a local church somewhere.
Lesson #8 – Laugh, Cry and Drink Plenty of Coffee
There are moments in my tenure as grad student where I have fallen on my knees in prayer and, as the case may be, in tears. When our church went through a split in the Fall of 2006 I remember preaching a sermon in Preaching and Teaching Biblical Genres with Dr. York. The sermon came from Colossians 1:24-29 and I remember saying that I felt like I was filling what was lacking in Christ’s sufferings. I felt like I was being afflicted by something greater than myself. I remember trying to hold it together before the sermon and breaking down into tears afterwards. I also remember the time in a class when someone shared deep, personal hurt that came from a family member and all we could do was cry. Then there are the many moments when we can simply just laugh. In one class I remember a student said that the Westcott-Hort text was a joke yet he had not taken a single class in Textual Criticism or even Greek…the professor nailed him for that and I laughed. I remember the time two friends of mine were in a class and we got called out on for chuckling and snickering. The professor said, “Guys, this really hurts my feelings.” The only time I have gotten in trouble in graduate school. All experience should be prefaced with an appropriate amount of coffee. I estimate that I have spent roughly $350.00 on coffee in the 6 years I have been in graduate school. What a waste but I can say that I have never fallen asleep in class.
Lesson #9 – Grades are Not Everything!!!
I used to get mad at people when they would flip out learning that they received a B when they should have received an A. They complain about all of the hours they put in and all of the time they spent mulling over their notes and thumbing through their note cards. One students was particularly mad at me when he learned I received an A on an exam that I only studied 2 hours on whereas he studied 8 hours on it and received a C. I looked at him and said, “Does it really matter?” He had no response. My friend Nathan Lewis use to make me mad at how he could sleep through hours of class and never study yet still make a B in the class. He looked at me one time and said, “Sometimes you just got it!” Grades are not everything. Some teachers could care less about what grade you make while others are strictly concerned about the grading process as it relates to ATS/SACS accreditation. Who cares? What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about God? How are you going to help others? If you can’t answer those questions from the class you took then you wasted your time, the professor’s time and somebody’s money!!!
Lesson #10 – Grad School Helped Me Love My Wife and Family Better
It is embarrassing if I were to tell you the number of hours I have spent away from my gorgeous wife and three beautiful children because of graduate school. The number of hours they have sacrificed for me to get this degree is absolutely astonishing. If I could, I would request that on my degree they put Heather, Kaleb, Amelia and Madelyn Mackenzie instead of my name. My wife has put up with so much these 6 years it is ridiculous. She has stayed up for me to make sure that she could kiss me good night before she went to sleep. She has cooked me meals (she does not cook by the way) after I got home from a class after a long day of babysitting kids. She would text me in the middle of a week long class with three simple words, “I love you,” just to get me through the day. She would send me pictures of the kids when they had spaghetti on their face or when they wanted to say, “I love you daddy!” My wife would listen to me when I was so enthralled about a class and she would also hold me when I was an emotional wreck. All of the times when I thought, “Is it worth it,” when I would leave and my son would say, “Don’t leave me daddy!” Then I would get to class and the teacher would let us out early. I have learned to love more, love harder and hate less.
Proverbs 5:18 says, “Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth.” Heather has been the fountain of blessing to me and that is why I can heed the Proverb writer who says, “May you always be captivated by her love” (5:19c; side note: I would quote the entire verse but I will let you look it up to see why I left part of it off…not that I do not agree with it ;)). I am captivated by my family’s love for me!
Hope you enjoyed these two posts. Have a blessed Wednesday!!!