Scarcity and Seminary

There is an interesting thing that happens in graduate school, especially if you go on to doctoral work. You show up having always been one of the smartest three people in your classes. Only now, everyone else has also been one of the smartest people in their classes. If you are just really smart, but not stand out smart (because you are in graduate school and everyone is stand out smart) sometimes you are a little unsure of who you are or why you are there.

Most people are at seminary because God has called them there, explicitly, through soft pushes, strange circumstances, or clear and definitive direction and prodding from God, they have been called. And some of us have some of ourselves, our egos, our identities wrapped up in that calling. So when we get to a place where everyone else is also called, it can feel scary. Maybe I am not favored or special anymore.

This, my friends, is a lie from the pit. Scarcity says that if everyone else around you is a thing then it takes that thing away from you. That simply isn’t true. Just because everyone else around me is a lady, doesn’t mean I am not totally a lady. I am a lady. The same is true for other things.

If you want to get really good at something, generally you find yourself in a place where everyone else around you is also good at that thing. You know who is at writer’s conferences? Writers. Teachers conferences specializing in pedagogy? Teachers who really care about their pedagogy and are trying to get better at it. Brilliant nurses are at nursing conferences, and artists all hang out together. These places don’t have to be about competition. They can be about collaboration, about learning to do and think and understand with people who care about whatever you are into just as much as you do.

It feels like scarcity is the only choice when there are only so many book deals/internships/chances/first place prizes. I suppose that is true. I suppose some of the shiny gold stars are scarce. But the growth opportunities and connections are totally abundant! They are.

It is GOOD NEWS that a lot more people than you are doing the thing. It means you are not alone. It means this thing matters and you only have to be responsible for your part. Abundance is real, and we can find it even amongst people who are searching for the same thing as us.

1 thought on “Scarcity and Seminary

  1. This observation is so true, and was my exact same experience in graduate school…being surrounded by all those smart people…who actually looked up to me while I admired them. Then we developed the great feeling of being like-minded linguists!

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