My first job out of college was as a photographer for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. I had interned at SWBTS the summer before my senior year, so I knew the team and was excited about the opportunity to prove myself in the “real world.”
While the job came with many benefits such as the opportunity for cheaper campus housing and a free gym membership, I quickly realized that one of the listed “benefits” wasn’t actually a benefit in my eyes: free tuition. If my goal was to attend SWBTS for a degree, this would have been a game-changer, but since I simply moved to Fort Worth for the job, the idea of taking classes towards a degree I didn’t care about wasn’t exciting to me.
My first thought was simply to not take advantage of this “benefit” I was given. However, eventually I came to the conclusion that it was an issue of stewardship. How bad could Bible classes be anyway?
I went on to take 14 graduate level seminary hours over the course of the next year and I thoroughly enjoyed every class, but my heart still wasn’t it in for the degree. In May of 2013, I married my husband and three months later we moved 1.5 hours south, forcing me to change my place of employment.
In the two years that followed, the Lord stirred my heart for the ministry. I grew in my personal walk with Christ and learned to trust and follow Him more than ever before. As a new pastor’s wife, I began to explore my passion for leading and teaching women. I attended several conferences and met a handful of influential ladies in the ministry that helped mentor and shape my attitude towards ministry.
In February of this year, I distinctly remember leaving one of those conferences and calling my husband on my drive home. I told him that I thought I should attend seminary…again. I felt called to teach women, but I didn’t feel equipped. I knew I did not have the knowledge necessary to hold God’s Word and teach it to others with the respect it deserves. I wanted to be able to teach and answer questions with confidence that I was handling His Word correctly.
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (NIV)
I also knew that this time seminary wouldn’t be so convenient – it was over an hour away and it wasn’t free. I continued to pray about seminary over the next few months. I eventually came to the conclusion that wouldn’t work out.
But then God does what He does best. I got a call from my previous boss at SWBTS. He wanted to know if I would entertain the thought of going back to work at the seminary. It was a new position, a better schedule, and I would once again have free tuition.
The rest is history. I’ve been back at SWBTS for almost two months and start school again in August. All I can say is, God is good.
In many ways I feel like I wrote this blog post to myself as a reminder of God’s provision and care. I am also hoping that in some way it is an encouragement to you. The Lord knew that I would go to seminary with an unprepared heart only to leave and come back two years later with a new goal in mind. He knew that I needed to move away, go through trials of my own and grow in my personal spiritual walk with Him before my heart would be ready to answer, “yes” to His call. He had a plan all along – His perfect plan. While it’s hard for us to see it sometimes (especially in the heat of the moment), we have to remember that He is always there for us. He loves us, cares for us, provides for us and protects us in ways we can’t understand.
While your story will look different than mine, God has special things in store for you too that fit into His perfect plan. I encourage you to trust Him because, trust me, He knows best.