Confessions of a Seminary Student
In Foundations of Spiritual Formation, Paul Pettit states that Spiritual Formation is divinely enabled by God through three essential resources: God’s Word, God’s Spirit, and God’s People. Of these, I believe that I struggle with relying on the Holy Spirit to work through all areas of my life. Of my many flaws, the one thing I struggle with the most is I try to do too much on my own. I put too much emphasis on what I can do and what I can control. I know that some of you that are reading this now are nodding your head in agreement, saying “yep that sounds like me”.
When starting on my seminary journey, I honestly thought that this was going to be a piece of cake. I have been a Christian for most of my life, and I know my Bible pretty well. I was dependent on my own abilities and my own knowledge. This was pride at its finest. When seminary tested me beyond my own abilities, my own personal walk with Christ struggled.
While some may say that being independent is a good trait, being too dependent on yourself often leads to weariness and eventual burn out. The reason why this happens is simple; we were never created to carry the weight of this life on our own. Jesus mentions that “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things” (John 14:26 ESV). Jesus gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us, to guide us, and to teach us. When we choose to rely on ourselves and what we can do we end up neglecting the Holy Spirit. This can be an intentional choice, but more times than not it is a subconscious, unintentional decision. We often think that some decisions, even the smaller ones, have no appeal to God, or are unimportant to Him. So, we are inclined to think that we can handle it on our own and leave the big stuff or important decisions up to God. Even though we may not purposefully neglect the Holy Spirit, we are still neglecting the very gift Jesus gave us.
This is something that we cannot take lightly. The Bible has some stern warnings against neglecting the Holy Spirt and not relying on God. If you have time this week, I encourage you to dive into the story of King Saul in 1 Samuel chapters 10-13. Saul quickly went from being the undisputed King of Israel, to being put aside and stripped of the title of King in the eyes of God.
For any of us, these passages should convict us of the times that we have become too prideful and neglected the Spirit of God. We need the Spirit of God, who is sent to aid and guide us throughout our life.
One of the ways we can grow to rely more on God is by spending more time in prayer. I should not necessarily ask for the things that I want or the things I want to see happen. But in open and honest prayer time, I should get to know God more, and listen to him speak more than myself. From this, I will begin to know when God is speaking and when he is not. I do not want to put a time limit on the amount of time I pray; I want to be fully engaged and undistracted.
The other way I can grow to rely more on God is by spending time in his word. The Bible is full of stories of how God has fulfilled the promises he has made to his people. It also depicts how those who are obedient to God complete the tasks that he has laid ahead of them. The Bible also gives us a clear picture of the character of God. If we truly want to rely on God more, then we need to get to know God better and know more about Him. This requires intentional time in His word consistently.