This has been the question that I have gotten over and over again these past few weeks.
As I finished up my Masters of Divinity from The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, I am aware at how fancy this all makes me. I mean FANCY! I now have a fancy hood, fancy letters by my name, and a very fancy piece of paper that is more expensive than all of my worldly possessions combined. Usually, what comes with such fancy things is the impression that I now know things – the idea that I have THE answers and to some extent have it all figured out.
Now, I don’t want my amazing professors from my school to get upset but I have to confess some things:
- Dr. Chelle Stearns, I do not remember all the different forms of atonement and their implications on my theological platform.
- Dr. Dwight Friesen, I can’t remember each of the existing cultural paradigm shifts that are actively present at this very moment.
- Dr. Steve Call, the only thing I remember about attachment theory comes from that super cute video about the baby and the mom.
- Dr. Ron Ruthruff, that list of biblical themes you gave in biblical theology … there was 5-ish right?
- Dr. Dan Allender, I don’t want to admit what I forget about your teaching because I am sure it will reveal way too much about myself that I do not intend to divulge.
That being said, I've already got my diploma so there's no going back!!
I chose to attend The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology (The Seattle School The Seattle School) because I wanted to go to a place that was more than a school. I wanted to attend an institution that realized that becoming a pastor is much more than learning the Greek alphabet and parsing some verbs. I wanted to attend a school that would value me as an individual and wanted to see me develop into the rooted, whole, intelligent, self aware, unique, silly, load, confident, caring pastor that I knew I could be.
Did I know exactly what I was getting into when I start The Seattle School 4 years ago? I had no clue. I had no clue that the work I would do could transform me so dramatically. I have explained to my friends that The Seattle School is like a therapy incubator. This metaphor still holds. I am not the same person I was when I moved to Seattle in 2012. I defiantly don’t have every answer that you might think I should have but I gained something more important than answers. I learned how to cultivate new questions to be curious about. I may not be able to quote Augustine or Luther off the top of my head but I learned how to say, “I don’t know… Maybe we could find out together.”
I learned that to be a good pastor is to claim the goodness of the humanity that I bring into the room with me. I learned that the cultural pressures of the pastoral office are not sufficient for listening to the Holy Spirit and facilitating opportunities for people to find restoration and freedom. I learned that the only way to help people transform into the beautiful creation they were intended to be is to do my own work to claim the beauty of my created self. When I do that, when I claim my beauty and goodness – which means admitting my wounds and pain, I create a space where others feel the freedom to do the same.
I may have been exaggerating about what I have forgotten from my classes over the last 4 years at The Seattle School… possibly. But what I hope sticks over the years is the freeing power of claiming my goodness so that others can claim their goodness. If I can hold on to a quarter of that notion, I think I’ll be ok. I think that right there might just be the fanciest part of this whole thing called seminary.