Friday, September 21, 2007

Inferiority Complex

"Oh Great Dragon- I'm a seminary student studying to be a pastor, and I always feel constant pressure to do as well or better than my classmates.  I study and read for an average of probably 10 hours a day, but no matter how well I do, I never feel like it's good enough.  How can I improve?" -Tormented at Trinity

Dear "Tormented," 

I get this question on a pretty regular basis.  It makes sense that I would; when someone wants to improve academically, it's completely logical that they would seek out the most brilliant mind of our generation.  So, in other words, you've come to the right place.

Here's your problem, though: you're not seeing the full picture.  Your mind has been completely trapped and boxed in by your small seminary world, and now all you can focus on is how you're doing in relation to other people you're in school with.

You know that guy in your classes who always knows the answers to the professor's questions?  He always asks what seem to be deep questions and he always just wants to know what the professor's "take" is on a number of issues he's been reading about that exclude participation from the rest of the class?  The one who always tries to talk to the professor for 20 minutes after class ends in hopes that the prof will recognize his immense genius?

Yeah, that guy very often (not always) has extremely low self esteem.  He feels loved when people think that he's smart, and it's difficult for him to even relate to many of his classmates.  He studies all the time and his crowning achievements are academic, not relational.

"Tormented," you said you're studying to be a pastor?  Great!  God knows we need more of you folks to love on this world.  And it's certainly important that you study hard, but for what purpose?

Don't forget this, because it's important: for the purpose of deepening your knowledge of God and your relationship with God in order that you may more effectively make him known and care for your fellow Christians.

That's it.  That's the reason you're in seminary.  To stress out about every little paper, quiz, test, and in-class discussion won't do anything but make you miserable.

And, "Tormented," you said you're studying 10 hours a day?  Stop that!  How do you expect to go from absolutely zero interaction with people over a four year period into a pastorate where most of your time will be dedicated to building relationships inside and outside of the church?  I'm not saying don't study; please don't misunderstand me.  I'm saying to study a healthy amount.  I promise you this: God will not define your success in His ministry by the GPA you receive in your M. Div. program.

You shouldn't define yourself by it, either.

Most Sincerely Yours,
The Don


Anonymous said...

Well, not your usual piece, but I'll say amen to it.

Anonymous said...

Has the Don turned serious? Might as well shut it down then.

D.C. Cramer said...

I see what's going on here. You used satire to gain publicity, and now that you have it, you're going to slam us all with serious messages. Awesome Carson, you never cease to amaze me with your brilliance.

Anonymous said...

Excellent advice F. Dr. D.A., but there needed to be some sort of biting sarcasm at the end.

Tyler said...'s actually something...practical...good job