Derek James Brown has identified forty-five ways to waste your theological education. This list is so good that I feel compelled to list them all below.
1. Cultivate pride by writing only to impress your professors instead of writing to better understand and more clearly communicate truth.
2. Perfect the fine art of corner-cutting by not really researching for a paper but instead writing your uneducated and unsubstantiated opinions and filling them in with strategically placed footnotes.
3. Mistake the amount of education you receive with the actual knowledge you obtain. Keep telling yourself, “I’ll really start learning this stuff when I do my Th.M or my Ph.D.”
4. Nurture an attitude of superiority, competition, and condesension toward fellow seminary students. Secrectly speak ill of them with friends and with your spouse.
5. Regularly question the wisdom and competency of your professors. Find ways to disrespect your professors by questioning them publicly in class and by trying to make them look foolish.
6. Neglect personal worship, Bible reading and prayer.
7. Don’t evangelize your neighbors.
8. Practice misquoting and misrepresenting positions and ideas you don’t agree with. Be lazy and don’t attempt to understand opposing views; instead, nurse your prejudices and exalt your opinions by superficial reading and listening.
9. Give your opinion as often as possible - especially in class. Ask questions that show off your knowledge instead of questions that demonstrate a genuine inquiry.
10. Speak of heretical movements, teachers, and doctrine with an air of disdain and levity.
11. Find better things to do than serve in your local church.
12. Fill your life with questionable movies, television, internet, and music.
13. Set aside fellowship and accountability with fellow brothers in Christ.
14. Let your study of divine things become dull, boring, lifeless, and mundane.
15. Chip away at your integrity by signing your school’s covenant and then breaking it under the delusion that, “Those rules are legalistic anyway.”
16. Don’t read to learn; read only to refute what you believe is wrong.
17. Convince yourself that you already know all this stuff.
18. Just study. Don’t exercise, spend time with your family, or work.
19. Save major papers for the last possible moment so that you can ensure that you don’t really learn anything by writing them.
20. Don’t waste your time forming friendships with your professors and those older and wiser than you.
21. Make the mistake of thinking that your education guarantees your success in ministry.
22. Don’t study devotionally. You’ll never make it as a big time scholar if you do that. Scholars need to be cool, detached, and unbiased - certainly not Jesus freaks.
23. Day dream about future opportunities to the point that you get nothing out of your current opportunity to learn God’s Word.
24. Do other things while in class instead of listening - like homework, scheduling, letter-writing, and email.
25. Spend more time blogging than studying.
26. Avoid chapel and other opportunities for corporate worship.
27. Argue angrily with those who don’t see things your way. Whatever you do, don’t read and meditate on II Timothy 2:24-26 and James 3:13-18 as you prepare for ministry.
28. Set your hopes on an easy, cushy pastorate for when you graduate. Determine now not to obey God when he calls you to serve in a difficult church.
29. Look forward to the day when you won’t have to concern yourself with all this theology and when you will be able to just “preach Jesus.”
30. Forget that your primary responsibility is care for your family through provision, shepherding, and leadership.
31. Master Calvin, Owen, and Edwards, but not the Law, Prophets, and Apostles.
32. Gain knowledge in order to merely teach others. Don’t expend the effort it takes to deal with your own heart.
33. Pick apart your pastor’s sermons every week. Only point out his mistakes and his poor theological reasoning so you don’t have to be convicted by anything he says.
34. Protect yourself from real fellowship by only talking about theology and never about your personal spiritual issues, sin, and struggles.
35. Comfort yourself with the delusion that you will start seriously dealing with sin as soon as you become a pastor; right now it’s not really that big a deal.
36. Don’t serve the poor, visit the sick, or care for widows and orphans - save that stuff for the uneducated, non-seminary trained, lay Christians.
37. Keep telling yourself that you want to preach, but don’t ever seek opportunities to preach, especially at local rescue missions and nursing homes. Wait until your church candidacy to preach your first sermon.
38. Let envy keep you from profiting from sermons preached by fellow students.
39. Resent behind-the-scenes, unrecognized service. Only serve in areas where you are sure you will receive praise and accolades.
40. Appear spiritual and knowledgeable at all costs. Don’t let others see your imperfections and ignorance, even if it means you have to lie.
41. Love books and theology and ministry more than the Lord Jesus Christ.
42. Let your passion for the gospel be replaced by passion for complex doctrinal speculation.
43. Become angry, resentful and devastated when you receive something less than an A.
44. Let your excitement for ministry increase or decrease in direct proportion to the accolades or criticisms you receive from your professors.
45. Don’t really try to learn the languages - let Bible Works do all the work for you.