The Rev. Laurie Brock posts on her blog a wise list of suggestions for those entering seminary. While she notes that “thinking you will learn most of what you need to be a priest (or pastor or minister) in your seminary classes is akin to thinking you can learn to ride a horse only by reading books and going to lectures,” she urges seminarians to make the most of their training. Her list includes:
3. Learn about mental illness. Learn as much as you can about mental illness. If your seminary is on top of things and has classes that offer education in this area, take as many classes as you can. My seminary offered one, and it was almost ignored by seminarians on the ordination tract. I took it and still felt woefully unprepared for working with parishioners who struggle with mental illness and how their illnesses impact a community.
6. None of us were called to ordained ministry because we are awesome. Somehow in God’s economy, our wounds and scars are what God sees as valuable. So begin the hard, hard process of tearing down all the false awesomeness and letting your wounds and scars be exposed. A caveat – don’t become that person who is only known by his/her wounds and scars. That’s just another way of hiding behind false awesomeness. One way to do this (and I say it repeatedly): therapy.
9. For the Episcopalians reading this: READ, LEARN, and INWARDLY DIGEST the Book of Common Prayer. Know the rubrics. Believe rubrics are your friend. Read them again and again until you can recite many from memory. Some months ago, when talking with a priest from another diocese, he asked, “Do you use the Nicene Creed every Sunday? I find it takes away from the sermon.” I wish, at that moment, I was that priest who carried a flask of bourbon with her at all times. Contrary to my Kentucky reputation, I am not, so I took a deep breath instead and died a bit inside. I cannot stress this enough: bad liturgy is akin to bad pastoral care.
Read the complete list here.