Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What They Don't Teach You in Bible College/Seminary...

I officiated my first funeral this past weekend.  I'll be honest with you - I was nervous, like to the point of hyperventilating in the car ride to the funeral home... twice.

The week prior several things struck me, mostly while I was sitting in a local Starbucks preparing the funeral message.  You see, while I was sitting there figuring out how to write a sermon that doesn't sound like a sermon, that will both comfort those who are mourning and challenge those who are lost, I found myself staring off into the distance having a lot of those "thinking dazes."

While I was "thinking," I saw someone that attends the local seminary up the road working away on some sort of exegetical paper.  This person was digging hard into their word study, making sure that all their lexical ducks are in a row as they attempt to fill out 20-30 pages worth of substance on what I am sure is less than 5 Greek or Hebrew words.

So, I sat there staring at them (hopefully not for too long) remembering fondly how I used to do that.  I used to dig deep into the meanings of words and the placement order of a passage.  I used to chart out my word studies lining up the prepositions, pointing back and forward and highlighting all of the different nuances.  What grammatical Greek fun was had!

But not on Friday afternoon.  No, on Friday afternoon, I sat there staring at a Seminary student who was learning how to rightly divide the Word of God, which is so very important; while I was sitting there attempting to write something I never learned how to do in all of my years of schooling.  Because of this, I have thought through several things now that I believe you will never be taught (at least not unless you seek it out) in Bible College/Seminary that I have now discovered in my short time as an associate pastor.

Here they are in no particular order:

1. How to listen and not debate.
2. How to listen and then respond in prayer.
3. How to offer compassion, not sympathy.
4. How to learn from people who have far less educational experience and knowledge than you do.
5. How to write a funeral message.
6. How to write a wedding message.
7. How to treat people as souls and not things to fill with knowledge.

I'm sure there is more that I will find out along the way, but man, what an interesting journey it has been so far!