Seminary is a whole new animal. Most of the people I know in seminary fall into one of two categories. Either they’re single, moved states for school, and literally everything they’re doing is brand new: church, work, friends, school, hobbies, habits, restaurants, auto shop. Or, they’re married with kids and doing school full-time, ministry full-time, work full-time, and family full-time. Both require pristine time management. I’m writing this out of that first category: everything is new. Here are four tips that have really helped me!
1. Posture of openness
Because school was the first thing I had in my life here, it’s been easy to let school determine my entire schedule. Or even a little bit deeper, it’s been easy to let ministry preparation determine my entire schedule. It can control the friends I choose, the events I attend, and whether or not I rest. My paradigm, I’ve realized, has been a default posture of preparation, making time for openness here and there. The paradigm I’ve decided I need to adopt is a default position of openness with certain time blocked off for preparation. That’s my latest thought on what it looks like to live by the Spirit.
2. Block off time
First, determine your immovable blocks of time. That probably includes your class schedule, your Greek tutor’s hours, and whatever work time your budget tells you you need. For me, that was a total of about 25 hours a week. Everything else fits around that.
3. Determine types of work required
Scan your syllabi as soon as you get them. I did, and discovered that this semester I’m required to read approximately 5,000 pages and write 13 papers. Looking at my immovable time blocks, I realized I could make a weekly rhythm of reading books Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday; do my review, cover administrative needs, and outline papers on Thursdays; then write papers in one sitting on Fridays. Several weeks in, these “movable” blocks are solidifying into immovable blocks. I now know that my work week is approximately 52 hours. The rest of my time is totally free.
4. Try new things (if you can)
My schedule may be lighter than yours. You may be supporting a wife and children; I’m just supporting the pet mouse under my bed who came with my cheap room! But with whatever hours you have leftover, you can rest, explore culture, try new things, meet new people, involve yourself in your church, or whatever else you feel prompted toward.
I want to be a pastor, and I’m spending 52 hours a week training to be a more effective one. That’s all I need. What remains is to let go of control of my free time, and practice being open to the Spirit which, as it turns out, is also good training for being a more effective pastor.
By Jack Franicevich Jack is an MDiv student at Denver Seminary. His interests range from the doctrine of the church, theologies of friendship and work, preaching, hymn-writing, and grassroots ecumenism to competitive table tennis, cooking for large groups, classical literature, and organizational development.