It is finished. I finally graduated from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with my Master of Divinity degree. Many of you didn't know that this was even going on, but I have been working toward this for a LONG time.
Here are some fun facts about the journey to graduation:
- 85 hours of coursework for the M.Div
- 12 years to finish (began Fall 2002)
- 8 moves
- 5 cities (Gainesville, FL; New Orleans, LA; Jacksonville, FL; Lakeland, FL; Topeka, KS)
- 3 states (Florida, Louisiana, Kansas)
- 3 children
- 3 ministries/churches (UF Baptist Collegiate Ministries, First Baptist Church at the Mall, Fellowship Bible Church)
- 1 hurricane (Katrina)
- 1 temp job because of said hurricane (Fidelity National Insurance)
- 1 wedding to my incredible wife who supported me and encouraged me the entire time we have been married!
It is done, and it is surreal. I have been "in school" for as long as I can remember. I was talking with someone the other day who mentioned that it was weird to get to the point in life where he had been out of school longer than he had been in school. I'll be 70 before that's even a possibility... This degree doesn't really change anything in my day-to-day reality. I wanted to pursue this degree because my heart is more to be a pastor than it is to be a musician. I want to pastor the church through music, and that has always been the desire. My education has helped me to grow in that regard, and I don't regret it in the least, no matter how long it took. If nothing else, my kids saw what it looks like to persevere and finish, despite many obstacles and challenges.
So, my encouragement to you is this: don't quit, whatever it is that you're pursuing. It might take longer than you think. The journey might look much different than you thought it would at the outset. There may be many obstacles making it difficult. Don't. Quit. There is something to be said for finishing what you start, and it says it about you, and it says it about me.