Recently, I was reflecting on my journey, specifically as it relates to formal (ministry/leadership) education. A long time ago, I came to believe that the highest goal of education (for me, at least) was formation, not knowledge acquisition, or the diploma at the end of the program.
Formation is a goal of all personal growth (reading, seminars, etc.), of course, but a formal education setting offers an extra intensive personal growth environment.
This may not apply as well to more technical kinds of education, but the focus in ministry education isn’t just the content (Bible, ministry, and leadership); it’s also about being shaped/formed into the kind of person God can use for a lifetime in ministry. It’s more about character development and formation as a person than it is about attaining all the knowledge you’ll ever need (which isn’t really possible, anyway).
In my Master of Divinity program in the 1990s, the goal could not have been to learn everything about the Bible. In fact, I had only three specific Bible courses (Psalms, Ezekiel, and the Johannine Epistles) in addition to broader courses on the Old Testament and the New Testament.
While part of the goal was to learn as much as possible about the particular topics I got to focus on, the more important goal was to learn how to learn/study, so that after graduation, I can make the most of lifelong study of the Bible.
Now, it’s also possible that I came to this realization as a way to make me feel better about how little I actually remember from all those years of studying! Seriously, I know I remember some things, but I also know there’s simply no way to remember everything I learned. There *has* to be a higher goal! 🙂