Quote of the Day: On getting a PhD

I know I post a lot on here about how it could be good for pastors of churches to think about getting a PhD or for PhD’s who haven’t been able to get into teaching just yet, to work the pastoral ministry.   Well, the following quote, believe it or not, is quite pastoral, and really could even be said of the MDiv, and I think in a lot of cases even the “pastoral ministry itself.”  Consider:

If you can imagine yourself doing anything else besides a PhD, then go do that.

Yup, there it is folks!  The most pastoral advice one can receive regarding academic or vocational work.  It’s true.  As Dr. Treier avers, PhD’s are time consuming labor intensive plain old-fashioned HARD WORK.  As it should be.  If there is something else you can do and find great joy and fulfillment in doing, go do that.  🙂   This is not to say if you are in a program now that you should stop or any such thing.  By all means, pursue thy calling with all thine heart!  It’s just that for those in the consideration – “let those who have ears to hear, hear.”

The rest of what he has to say is quite good too:

The job market suggests that in most fields evangelicals in particular do not need more applicants; we need a few better-prepared ones. The church, meanwhile, quite likely needs more intelligent and intellectually-curious pastoral staff members. Let the one who has ears, hear.

This is good too:

Having said that, I had a seminary professor tell me that I was not well cut out for pastoral ministry in certain respects, whereas “if you don’t go into the academy, you’re wasting your gifts.” If a professor tells you that, then again let the one who has ears, hear [no professor told me that] –although, in the most recent job market, the words are less and less likely to be spoken [indeed].

Perhaps the bottom line is to ask your potential recommenders to be really honest with you before they simply agree to write reference letters. You need to give them the freedom to do this, because–speaking from experience–it is not easy to tell someone with a heart set on a PhD that they’re probably not cut out for it. But you need someone to care for you enough to be as honest and helpful as they can.

This may even go go so far as to suggest that even if you do have the aptitude and gifting, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are to pursue the PhD.   Asks those who you know who have the COURAGE to be brutally honest (and with a loving interest in your personal best interest and personal, mental, emotional, spiritual well-being) with you.  They will let you know.

Nothing wrong with getting the PhD.  Like Marc Cortez says, just do it with your eyes wide open (and I say with your chin up).



One response to “Quote of the Day: On getting a PhD

  1. From one that is preparing to take his exams, I totally agree with this. There is no way to measure, before attending, what one will have to go through to get the Ph.D. In other words, it takes so much sacrifice that one does not realize before doing it (physical, mental, financial, spiritual, etc.). Even if you do love it, it takes a great toll upon you and those around you. I would go further than what was said though, for those wanting to study theology and biblical studies. I really believe that one should consider calling. I have sought a Ph.D. because God placed it upon my heart while I was at Southwestern. Furthermore, the vast majority of theologians and biblical scholars do not make enough money for it to be just a career. And, in my experience, those who treat it like a career more than a calling end up taking aberrant positions. A Ph.D. in theology or biblical studies should be done out of love for God and his word – out of a yearning desire to know more about the one whom you have dedicated your life to. If this kind of attitude pushes one’s desire to get a Ph.D., then church ministry is a natural option when the Ph.D. is attained. At least, I am certainly considering it.

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