Writing the “Call” Essay
September 4, 2009
Before I was accepted into the master of divinity program at Sioux Falls Seminary I had to complete one particularly difficult task. I had to write a "call" essay, in which I was to cull the reasoning and experiences behind my belief that God had not only called me to saving faith in Christ, but also to pursue a seminary education. My essay was both a failure and a success.
It failed because I couldn't possibly distill 31 years of development, growth, rebellion, unbelief, struggle, weakness, victory, faithfulness, joy, and fear into an essay of a few pages. I couldn't articulate satisfactorily how coming from an un-churched, non-religious family was both a hindrance and a blessing. And I could not fully explain the wayward paths and experiences that led me both to finally profess faith in Jesus as the Son of God, but also a belief that he wanted me in seminary. These are weighty things that don't confine themselves well to words on paper. They likely did not have the impact or provide a totality of vision that I wished to express to those that would read my essay and decide whether I was suitable for theological education.
But it was a success in that I am here; a first-year seminary student. When that reality settled into my heart I was filled with a complex mixture of fear, doubt, and joy. I have never enjoyed an education so much in my life. I have always desired to learn, and I feel as though I have plugged into a high voltage wire of knowledge here.
Now, I doubt I would fit the stereotypical definition of a "seminary student." My life history is anything but immaculate. But there is a comfort and peace in the truth that regardless of my background I believe I belong here, and there is a school filled with faculty and fellow students who join me in that belief.
So, where does that leave you? Perhaps you're reading this and are contemplating a theological education. You may be able to relate to some of what I've written about myself, my life, my journey here. I would urge you not to worry too much about the doubts and fears you may have in deciding to go to seminary. Pray, fast, seek guidance. But in the end, if you truly believe that God has called you to seminary, then as his child your only real response must be obedience. I understand that and what such a decision entails. The faculty here knows what it means and what it will cost economically and personally.
There is no shame in praying and questioning and then deciding God has not called you to graduate work. But if your call is affirmed, then come. We'll be here. Always. We'll rejoice in your walk of faith. Always. You'll get the education you need and want, and you'll gain brothers and sisters in the process.