I started attending seminary classes mostly out of convenience. My denomination's theological seminary was opening a branch at the church where I was on staff. And we were given scholarships and a discount for enrolling in classes. Hey, why not? But could I do it? I had three kids five and under, like under my feet, in addition to a full-time ministry. I hadn't been in school for fourteen years. Could I do this? I took it one class at a time.
In one of those classes, I observed my professor's passion for the topic. Being a father and husband in a blended family, he was driven to help others affected by divorce. This class was designed to equip us as pastors to minister to this population in the church and their special needs. The professor was so... impassioned! There's no other word. He lived out the painful experience he was teaching us about. He studied the topic, he wrote books and materials and started a ministry. As I sat in one of his sessions, being remarkably impressed by him, I said to myself, "I just want to help people." I'll never forget that moment. I wasn't feeling called to that specific people group (though I have used the information gleaned in that class on several occasions), but I just felt impressed to help others. I didn't know who or what issues I would be tackling, I just wanted to help in a way that I hadn't before.
As the years passed and our focus in ministry became more clear, I transferred to a university that offered a Master's in Pastoral Counseling. This resonated with me. In other classes I would get A minuses and B's, but I got solid A's in all my counseling classes, affirming that impression of just wanting to help people.
I'd like to first thank my God for seeing me through. There were several times I didn't think I could do this and I begged Him for help. And He helped. I want this to be for His glory and purposes.
I'd like to thank my wife for her support and belief in me. I know it's cliche' but it doesn't make it any less true: I could not have done this without her.
My kids... Now I don't have to tell them "no, because I have homework," or "don't bother me, I'm taking a test!" I know they're grateful for that.
I'd like to thank my professors, each one bringing a unique dynamic to my experience. Each of their names have been logged in my journal and the notebooks saved, so they can be credited when necessary in the future.
And I would like to dedicate this achievement to my parents. This is when it gets hard, when they're not here to witness these things, but I know no one would be more proud of this accomplishment than those two dear and dearly missed people.
So, now what? I just want to help people.