Seminary Notes 3: Pick Your Pace

While we were at the beach last week, I finished up summer quarter finals. I wrote two final papers, one on Hamilton (which was a major win for 2020) and an exegetical project on the Davidic covenant. I also took an exam, which was a timed series of four essay questions. It was brutal and I was glad I got to view the ocean while I was writing. Second quarter is finished even if I don’t have grades yet.

During the summer quarter I made the decision to only take one class in the fall quarter. It was hard to decide to slow my pace but the words of one of my professors were instrumental in making my decision. We had a guest speak to the class and she commented on how long it had taken her to finish her degree because of her job and her family. My professor calmly replied, “We don’t apologize for things like that.” Instantly I remembered that this isn’t a race.

What we all need, wherever we are in life, is a sustainable pace. Accruing knowledge doesn’t help us much if we aren’t living well at the same time. As much as it lies within our power (and sometimes it isn’t), we should survey our entire lives and make pacing decisions well. Of course everyone will come to different conclusions because we are different and have different lives. That’s why we can’t just copy what someone else is doing. We have to pray, weigh our options, and walk by the Spirit for ourselves.

I did tell my professor when the quarter was finished how helpful her comment, which wasn’t even directed to me, was. She responded that when we are living well we are just as formed by real life as by the classes we take. She’s right. Mothering forms me. Being married forms me. Homeschooling my kids this year forms me. Cleaning my house forms me. Spending Sundays in community forms me. To be shaped as a disciple I need both the classes and the rest of life. I used to really struggle with this concept because I love to learn and felt that time spent learning was more valuable than doing life. Colossians 1:10 was the catalyst that changed my mind. To walk worthy of the Lord, we need to be bearing fruit in good work and growing in our knowledge of God. It’s not one without the other.

Don’t forget that you are being shaped by how you live. Not just the minutes that you spend in the Scripture or reading good books or listening to podcasts. Living is formational. We are shaping ourselves into the person we will be in the future by the things we are doing today and everyday. Our everyday lives and habits are worth just as much intention as our learning.

Taking two classes while homeschooling full-time was squeezing my schedule. The work got done, but there was little time for anything else. Not for many people or for rest or even just enjoyment. Sometimes life forces that on us, but sometimes we force that on ourselves. Since this was an area where I could shape my life, I knew I wanted to have time to invest in others and to practice sabbath principles. Right after I decided to cut down to one class to make more time in my schedule, a younger woman reached out and asked if I would disciple her. I was thrilled to say yes. I’m also going to step through the last three months of the year with 3-4 women in a discipleship group online.

If we’re learning, we should be teaching. We pass on what we know. I’m thinking of all the analogies about how the Dead Sea is dead because water flows into it and none comes out, but I think you get the point. We don’t learn and grow to advance ourselves and be smarter. We learn and grow to reflect who God is, to go and make disciples. Learning has to be lived out wherever we are in life.

Fall quarter classes don’t start until September 28th and I’m very excited for the break. I have a stack of books to read and I’m trying to finish the Bible Project’s podcast series on reading the letters of the New Testament. (Ps- when you spend your free time like that, you end up contemplating seminary.) Being in seminary still feels like a gift and Interpretive Practices is going to be a fun challenge. It’s on to Greek after that!



  1. Aelæon

    Thanks for the reminder that,”We don’t learn and grow to advance ourselves and be smarter. We learn and grow to reflect who God is, to go and make disciples. Learning has to be lived out wherever we are in life.”
    Your blogs bring much encouragement to me.
    Thank you mrs.Hensley.

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