by Sol Rexius
I’ve been a Christian for 23 years, a husband for 9 months, and a college pastor at the University of Oregon for 8. I love my God, my wife, and my job – in that order, but in different ways.
And, in the last three years, I’ve learned a lot through my experience at Western Seminary. Here are some of the most important lessons.
- I learned that no amount of schooling can prepare you for the complexity and diversity of real-life ministry, but a good seminary education really gives you a head start.
- I learned that seminary is more about crafting a theological toolbox than it is about simply consuming theological truths.
- I learned that leaders must be readers, and readers must be doers.
- I learned that there are a lot of people in this world doing a lot more courageous things than I am. I know this because I had class with them.
- I learned that success in ministry should be defined not by great numbers, but great faithfulness.
- I learned that a pastor who doesn’t pray is like a chocolate Easter bunny…he might be sweet and pretty, but really he’s hollow, seasonal, and sooner or later, he’s gonna get eaten up.
- I learned that the Bible I brought to seminary had a few extra books that didn’t belong there: like 1st Reservations, 2nd Hesitations, and 3rd Opinions.
- I learned that a spoonful of humor makes the medicine go down.
- I learned that people who only see things in black and white need to recognize that there are some grey areas in the Christian life.
- I also learned that people who only see things in grey need to recognize that there are some things that are in fact black and white when it comes to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- I learned that going on Carl Laney’s Israel study tour is a life-changing trip, and you might even meet your future wife at the city gates of Jerusalem – just like I did.
- I learned that one of the most effective preaching tools is a praying wife.
- I learned that you can’t be a bad husband and a good pastor at the same time.
- I learned to trust a man who is humble enough to say nothing more than God says and bold enough to say nothing less.
- I learned that influencing people for Jesus is way more exciting than impressing people with me.
- I learned that being a good leader means learning to say “no” to a lot of really great things so that you can say yes to the right things.
- I learned that, contrary to popular belief, sometimes you actually need to walk away from open doors and kick down the closed ones.
- I learned that a preacher’s authority comes not from the elegance of his vocabulary, but from the truthfulness of his message.
- I learned that motivational-speaking can help, encourage, and even transform people, but only gospel-preaching can bring dead people to life.
- I learned that at the core of the gospel is a person to receive, not just a set of doctrines to affirm.
- I learned that if you want to see God raise up another generation of strong, godly, biblical, and courageous pastors then you better start praying for it…just like my mother started doing 22 years ago when she attended this very graduation banquet, and heard a speaker just like me get up and tell the crowd to begin praying for such a thing. Well, she did just that, and God raised up a young man from her own family to carry on the legacy of the gospel in this world.
- I learned that knowledge without wisdom is impersonal, and wisdom without knowledge is impossible.
- And so I learned that going to seminary is not a waste of time.
- And I learned that dying for the gospel is not a waste of life.
This summer, we’ll be offering a series of posts from our 2012 graduates reflecting on what they’ve learned from their degree programs. Solomon Rexius graduated from the MDiv program, where he focused on expositional ministry. He currently serves at University Fellowship Church as the Associate Pastor of College Ministry.