Theology in 3D

A Brief Word to Seminary Graduates

Layton Talbert | April 24, 2024

First, ladies and gentlemen, congratulations! Graduating with any degree from BJU Seminary is no small accomplishment (which at least some of you, depending on your degree, should recognize as an example of litotes). If you were ever in doubt, you now know the rigor of your training here, and that will serve you well in whatever ministries and life opportunities God opens for you in the future.

That leads me to my second and main point. It occurred to me as Dr. Cushman prayed at the beginning of our final chapel today, that God would bless our graduates, whether God leads them to pursue another degree or to go directly into ministry. Amen. But there is a third possibility: the door God opens may lead to delay—or at least what looks to you like delay. That is as much God’s prerogative as any other door he may choose to open—a call to “wait on the Lord.” But waiting on the Lord “is not ‘doing nothing’; it is a definitive and spiritual exercise.” (Those are the words of someone who knows a thing or two about waiting on the Lord—a quadriplegic named Joni Eareckson Tada in her book When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty). It is not a substitute for the will of God; if it is God’s appointment, it is the will of God. That was what happened to me after I completed my PhD. For quite a few years.

So, to any who may find themselves seemingly “sidelined” after graduation, remember: if God gives you the grace to complete a degree, it’s entirely up to him how and when he wants to use it, and he’s not obligated to ask us if that’s okay or whether it makes sense to us.

Here’s the gist of my encouragement to such graduates: “service” is defined by the King, not by the servant. In the end, his gifts and servants are just that—his. We all serve him at his pleasure and appointment. If it’s not what we expected in terms of ministry, that’s not sidelining. That’s still serving.

So, congratulations and Godspeed in whatever he calls you to. And if you want more of the details or need more encouragement, you can find it here.

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