Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Strange Lives of Seminarians: Competition

One of the primary problems seminarians have to fight is that of competition. It may surprise you that this is so, but I have observed many examples of competitiveness among the future pastors of God's flock.

It makes sense that seminarians would be competitive. Take 3000 of us and cram us together and there are bound to be rivalries, jealousies, and disputes that pop up. Most of this stuff is under the surface. Competition is not expressed through shouting matches. It's expressed in quiet comments and edgy questions, proud statements and needless information. Though one might think that a campus full of future pastors would be characterized by humility, I sometimes think that we are marked more by pride, and that we are in fact a pretty proud group of young men. We're quick to speak of who we grade for or research for or interned under. We're often slower to speak of the transforming, humbling work God is doing within us as we journey through our seminary course.

Southern Seminary isn't alone in this respect. I'm sure anywhere there are a bunch of young men training together you'll find competitiveness. Men are by nature competitive, and in a small community, it's easy to become jealous and envious of one another. I suppose we seminarians have some exalted company in this respect. Wasn't it James and John who asked Christ for preferred seating, and their fellow disciples who then battled with them over this matter? Even the holiest of men get jealous and competitive. Such sin is almost to be expected when men are young, but we must all take stock of ourselves, for if we do not fight our natural desire to compete with one another and out-credential or out-internship one another, we will find ourselves bitter and angry twenty years from now when our name is forgotten and our church passed over by Christian media. What an awful thought.

When you think of seminarians, pray that they will above all be humble, that we will not care what men think of us, that we will not seek to outdo one another, that we will not compete, but that we will love one another and urge one another on to godliness and humility. A man can be incredibly gifted, but if he is not humble, he is really only a hollow man, and it will not take long for his lack of character to show itself. Pray that we seminarians will not be hollow. Pray that we will be humble, and thus full of the living Spirit of God.


Blogger Rich Clark said...

Thanks for that, Owen.

And people say blogs are no good. ;-)

1:09 PM  
Blogger Jed said...

A little competition never hurt anyone.

2:08 PM  
Blogger Adam Winters said...

Oh man, why is your blog so much more insightful than mine?!? *gumble*grumble*grumble*

Hmm, I'll have to think of a way to make better posts than Owen!

Seriously, though, this is great stuff. An excellent series you have chosen here, brother.

6:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Owen, this is so insightful. Years ago, my husband asked me to regularly pray that he would live in humble dependence upon God. It seems to me this is of utmost importance: a big (accurate) view of God, and a correspondingly small view of self. Thanks for writing about it.

Your mother-in-law

8:17 AM  
Blogger Dad said...

Seems like everyone else is chiming in, and speaking well of this, so to keep face I probably ought to as well.

Great Post!!!!! :)

But serious, this is a major issue for a lot of us, not just in school but thoughout life.

1 Peter 5:5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."

Oh for this to be true in me.

Al (Not Owen's dad or that other "Al")

9:41 AM  

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