Middle school is a period of most of our lives that we would love to forget. Our legs and arms grow too big for our bodies; our voices sound like we swallowed a frog, we begin to notice how bad we smell, and many other embarrassing things. Middle school is a self-esteem nightmare. The irony of middle school is we are happy when finally we “graduate” and become freshmen in high school.

Unfortunately, seminaries are not too much different than middle schools. They are full of academic competition, intellectual arguments, and ministry comparisons. A person with low self-esteem will probably not last more than a week in either a seminary or a middle school.

Even the faculty members at seminaries have problems with this. The degree that you have, and where you earned it, play into our competitive nature, causing us to intimidate others or be intimidated by others.

Shouldn’t the opposite be true? Shouldn’t seminaries be places to encourage and engage people in a loving manner without judging their intellectual ability or their ministry competency? Instead of chewing people up and spitting them out, shouldn’t we be “spurring one another on to love and good deeds?”

I’d love to see my seminary as a place where people feel welcomed and are seen as part of the same team, regardless of if they are studying theology, youth ministry, music, or Christian education. I’d love to see the professors that have been around forever and have their Ph.D look at the others as equals and respect them as experts in their field with something valuable to contribute to the school. I’d also love to see the new professors be less intimidated by the others, and it would be great if we weren’t all always trying to impress each other. We are, after all, part of the same body.