Why I Am Thankful for Bible College Students
Today’s blog hits a little closer to home. Perhaps not all my readers will understand the place from which this blog comes, but some will pick up right away. In my immediate context, there are a ton of students—both graduate and undergrad students—that attend an institution in town, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I am in fact a third year master’s student at SBTS myself. Because of the nature of what Amanda and I do (counseling, small group leading, leading kids ministry), we interact with these students—particularly Boyce College students—a good bit. At times I will hear some criticisms offered of them: “They aren’t dependable!” “They are too philosophical… they don’t live in the real world!” “They don’t have real jobs or real responsibilities!”
Believe me, there are foundations to these criticisms. Perhaps I am even susceptible to any combination of the above criticisms, and then some! We have a lot to learn. But one thing I have noticed is that for every criticism, I have found two reasons to be thankful for the Bible college students that God has brought into our lives. Here are a few:
1. Bible college students love the nations, and are often willing to go to the hard places.
I have an encouraging conversation with a Bible college student regularly about his or her heart for the nations. They get that the American Dream of prosperity with no personal sacrifice doesn’t deliver. They are content to so-called “waste” their talents and gifts serving those nations that still need access to the gospel and the Word because they get that their talents and gifts weren’t about them in the first place.
2. Bible college students understand the importance of relational ministry.
I fear that those in my generation and older have lost the art of having a conversation. Not Bible college students. You can’t walk by a corner of this campus, a coffee shop, or a park, without seeing them engaged in deep conversation. And while they may be about silly things (philosophical issues that don’t really matter, whether that guy really meant “I’m totally into you” when he let me cut in line in the café to get more broccoli, etc.) they are developing a pattern of listening and talking. They aren’t merely satisfied with listening to a sermon. They want to talk about what it means to apply that sermon this week. This encourages me.
3. Bible college students want to get married.
They may have no idea what marriage is like, or what it means to live in a sacrificial covenant with another sinner, but college students definitely want to get married. In an age where 30 is the new 20 when it comes to relationships, Bible college students don’t want to establish a pattern for life on their own, and then invite someone into that (nightmare!). They want to live out the role that God has given them in the context of an institution that shows the world the beauty of God’s relationship with His people. Granted, they may get in the marriage, and it may hit them in the face because it’s harder than they thought. But that is the beauty of marriage… it is sanctifying.
So, sure. Let’s have the tough conversations with Bible college students about what it means to be normal. Let’s talk with them about how they can be more respectful to authority. Let’s talk about how they aren’t the next Matt Chandler. But let’s also thank God for them, let them have dinner with our families, let them lead out in our church ministries, let them fail. How we minister to them is a stewardship issue, because one day they will be the men and women leading our churches. How will they know what to do if we don’t love them?
Why are you thankful for Bible college students? Why are you hopeful for the next generation of ministers and leaders?