I have been enrolled in a ministry master’s degree program at a private university since the fall of 2021. I have been trudging through the coursework finding some of the classes extremely enlightening and others quite a slog. The one lesson I have learned above all others at this point is that spirituality is not a matter of knowledge, but a matter of intention and purpose.
You would think that spending every day steeped in some aspect of religious instruction would necessarily translate into deeper spirituality. But it does not. In fact, at times it can even create a disconnect between me and God. Spirituality requires that I am intentional with God, that I am purposeful with my time, and that I rededicate myself each day to a desire to be closer to Him. Often times, I can complete my assigned reading and perform every study trick possible to stuff it all into my head, but it never reaches my soul. Unless, that is, I make the effort to invite God into the process of growth that my studying enables.
The information I have taken in is the seed. God provides the sun and the water and the nutrients needed for that seed to take root and sprout and produce fruit. How much, I wonder, of the last year and a half have I wasted because I neglected to invite God into the process.
I believe the same can happen when we read the Bible but do so mechanically, desiring to complete it—another chapter, another book—but failing to meditate on it and invite God into that process of instructing our souls. I do believe there are people “steeped in the Word” but bereft of God. Those people use scripture to wound, not to heal; though, they likely do not even realize what they are doing. They have knowledge, but lack discernment.
Far be it from me to become a person who packs in great knowledge but lacks discernment. I am making the commitment now to add to my daily prayer that God use my education for spiritual growth above intellectual enrichment. I want my degree to mean more than the letters I can tack after my name. I want it to be a soft blanket in a world where a degree is a conquering sword. Instead of using it to climb heights, I would rather mine the depths of God’s love and grace to produce spiritual growth in me that God can use to help change someone’s world.