Category Archives: seminary

What is your response to graduation?

Tomorrow marks the end of the road for students of the 8th cohort of our MA counseling program here at Biblical. After two years of hard labor, er studying and practice, they are now set free to do other things like read for pleasure or hang with family on Monday nights. Of course, some will transition to a few final online licensure courses and others will continue to accrue supervised hours to meet licensure requirements, but the intensity of learning and the cohort life will not be the same.

In thinking about my own graduation from a cohort some 15 years ago, I remember the strange feeling of having arrived at the finish line with an empty feeling. I think that feeling came from the fact that I still had a ways to go to get licensed and to land a job.

Or maybe we put too much expectation on the acquisition of a goal, on our accomplishments. Degrees, jobs, houses, marriages, children–all good things–do not provide lasting changes in our outlook on life, our level of happiness, our perception of self. Sure, these things do provide opportunities for re-evaluation of self, the world, values, etc. But they do not exert changes. You can find people with many degrees, titles, things, who are still searching for an elusive sigh of relief, of arrival at some new constant state.

Is there a better response to graduation?

Instead of only looking for arrival or to the future, what if we use this time to see what God has done in our lives over the last two years? Like climbing a mountain, you get time at the top to stop and look out and back to see how far you travelled. During the climb your head is down trying to avoid tripping over rocks or roots. On the journey, you had to keep a steady pace for fear of quitting. But at the top you can stop and ponder. The time doesn’t last long since you will need to climb down soon. But before you go, take a look at the things God has enabled you to do. You weathered losses, had many ah-ha moments, developed courage to try rather scary things, had to admit weakness, received unexpected support, were sustained and able finish tasks that you thought unnecessary.

If you have just reached a goal like a graduation, take a minute to write down what diificulties you survived and what unexpected blessings you experienced. Look back and then write it down. Otherwise, you may forget as you climb back down the mountain.

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Filed under Biblical Seminary, counseling, education, seminary

Biblical Seminary Summer Offerings

Every summer we have a summer counseling institute where we offer electives for current students, alum, and other interested parties (graduate counseling credit counts for required CEUs!). This summer we have three fabulous offerings!

1. **ON-LINE** Models of Counseling(2 credits) by Dr. Bryan Maier. From 7/6 to 8/31. This class has NO on-site time. If you have ever wanted to study the historic models of counseling from a Christian perspective this class is for you. Bryan really understands the basics of these models, offers great insights and careful thinking. Plus, Bryan’s material includes narrated PowerPoints and short videos made to stimulate your thinking. 

2.  Theology of Suffering & Disability(2 credits) by Jerry Borton and Kevin Kain. Class meets two weekends (7/10-11, 7/24-25). Jerry works for Joni & Friends and both Jerry and Kevin have intimate understanding of Cerebral Palsy. This is not, per se, a counseling course but open to all who want to think biblically about suffering and disability and apply that to their counseling or ministry practices.

3. Counseling Victims in the Criminal Justice System(1 credit) by Jenn Zuck. Class meets one weekend (August 7-8). Jenn has tremendous experiences working with victims of abuse and crimes in the justice system. Sadly, the church has not supported these individuals as it could have (I have heard several Christian prosecutors tell me that they have yet to see a pastor come in support of the victim, but many times observed the pastor supporting the alleged perpetrator). If you don’t live in the area, consider a visit. Class meets Friday night and Saturday. Philadelphia is a great town to visit!

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Filed under Abuse, biblical counseling, Biblical Seminary, christian counseling, christian psychology, counseling, counseling and the law, counseling skills, education, seminary, suffering, teaching counseling

Pastor Health Conference Recap

On Friday, Biblical Seminary hosted the first of what I hope to be many “Pastoring though Church Challenges” conference for pastors. We had a nice 75 or so ministry leaders here to hear plenaries and breakouts regarding specific church challenges and opportunities/challenges to their spiritual and emotional lives.

Everything went just about as smoothly as could be. My assistant director (MA Counseling program), Bonnie, gets all the credit here. I had an idea…she made it happen–and happen well at that!

At the end I asked a few anonymous survey questions and over 50% responded. Here’s what we learned:

1. Over half of the respondents are facing high levels of chronic stress
2. Most report they are “managing with struggles” (opposed to managing either “poorly” or “satisfactorily”, or “well.”
3. When asked to write in the top 2 sources of their stress they gave answers that fit in several categories. The categories receiving the most “hits” were personal issues (e.g., depression, anxiety, sinful habits, no passion) and marital distress. Financial stress and church conflict got the next highest level of “hits.
4. 43% did not have regular contact with someone who really knew them and their personal issues
5. Interestingly, respondents were rather wary of joining face-to-face or web-supported support groups of peers. Most rated their interest (theoretical) as maybe to unlikely. Web supported groups (video/discussion) received the least interest.


Filed under Christianity, Christianity: Leaders and Leadership, pastoral renewal, pastors and pastoring, seminary