Yes, I’m done! I received the notification last night.
Jim Cymbala in his book Fresh Wind Fresh Fire laments that he does not have a seminary degree. When asked if one is needed to be a pastor he assures us that it is not. But if you don’t have an advanced degree, he recommends that your read, read and read some more.
Eight years ago I stared out on a journey that began as an opportunity to alleviate boredom. I was between ministries and I had promised my daughters that I would not seek a ministry outside of the Detroit area until they were out of high school. (Since then I’ve served in two local ministries)
To pass the time I enrolled at Liberty Baptist Seminary and earned my master’s degree in a little less than 5 years. By that time I had found a doctoral program that intrigued me and so 3 years ago I began my doctoral studies at the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies. The degree I pursued was a theological one centered in worship and spiritual formation with an emphasis of looking at future with the lens of the ancient past.
Last night I received notification that my thesis was accepted and I am now a doctor of the church. Because doctoral degrees are terminal (think the highest or final degree one can receive, not lost jobs or death), it is traditional in academia that upon acceptance of your thesis or dissertation to claim the doctoral title. The actual ceremony and hooding will actually take place until next June.
Over the past few years I’ve had time to reflect on my reasons for pursuing higher degrees.
Here are some of them:
1. I was bored. (Now what will I do?)
2. I once lost out on a “job” because I did not have a seminary degree. (Now I’m probably over qualified!)
3. While I had done a tremendous amount of study and reading (like Jim Cymbala) some people refused to give credence to my teaching. (They’ll probably still ignore it!)
4. I found that I enjoyed learning.
5. I really like to read. (I’ve found that I’m a passable writer, too.)
6. I’ve discovered that the more I’ve learned the more questions I have and the more areas I’d like to study.
7. God has especially used the doctorate to prepare me for the next phase of my ministry (preaching, teaching and leading a church).
A learned man once said that an expert is a person who knows more and more about less and less.
I guess I now qualify as one of those people!