Studenthood and Time Management

By: Jayson Rowe

Editor’s Note: Jayson is the editor of Between the Times, works in the Information Technology department at SEBTS, is a graduate of the College at Southeastern, and is currently pursuing his M.Div at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

In 2014, at 34 years old, and after over a dozen years into a career, I came back to school to prepare for ministry.

I will candidly admit, I occasionally look back at my previous normal life and I’m a bit jealous of all the free time I once had. Nevertheless, being a seminary student truly is a calling. Because I am following God’s will I am genuinely happy—yet, that doesn’t make me any less busy.

Students here at Southeastern come from many walks of life, and are in many different stages of life, but we have one thing in common—we all have a lot to do. We have school responsibilities, family responsibilities, church responsibilities and most have work responsibilities.

Thankfully, in my time at Southeastern I’ve never been late on an assignment and, in fact, I’m usually finished with things early. This is pretty astonishing, as I have historically not been a very organized person, and could have even been considered a procrastinator most of my life.

I wanted to share some best practices I have learned since returning to studenthood which have helped me personally manage my time as a student.

Know how much time you have:

Before anything else, you must take into account any obligations you have outside of school. Know how much time you will be able to devote to school work every day. Have realistic expectations of how many credit hours you can take each semester. You may be sure of your abilities, but at some point, you will be at the point of no return, or as Dr. Benjamin Quinn likes to say, it’ll be “that time of the semester” and you have no choice to but to dig in and get it done.

Plan your semester:

As soon as you get your syllabuses (and it is syllabuses and not syllabi. You can verify this with Dr. Bruce Ashford) plan out your semester. Make note of any weekly assignments (quizzes, reflection papers), any exams, any book reviews, and any papers or research projects. For any long papers or major research projects, give yourself a due date that is 2 weeks early. This will give you time to not be under pressure, and to have plenty of time to take your work to The Writing Center for feedback, edit well, and turn in polished work.

Know your speed:

For weekly reading, understand your personal reading speed, and know how many pages per day you need to read to complete all assigned reading for the week. Likewise, know your writing speed, and understand how your reading speed relates as you do research for writing. Always over-estimate how long it will take you to do something, and don’t procrastinate.

Work diligently:

It is not helpful to know your reading and writing speed if you are not working to full capacity. When you are on, be on. If you have three hours per day to devote to school work, turn off all distractions and give yourself up to that task fully for three hours.

Rest often:

Try to have one day of rest each week. I have tried to maintain Sunday as a day free of schoolwork. I can’t say I’ve been successful for every Sunday over the past three years, but most have been free from school work. It’s important to have a balance. Remember the first step, and try to make sure you are able to get things done in the amount of time you have budgeted for school work. Time is constant—we all only have 24 hours in each day, and you have to budget time just like money.

In closing, remember this: It is okay to get a ‘B’ in Church History if that keeps you from dropping below an ‘A’ in Family. It’s okay to get a ‘B’ in Theology if it keeps you from dropping below an ‘A’ in your personal devotional life.

Finally, let your school work reflect 1 Corinthians 10:31 and Colossians 3:17—do everything with a worshipful heart.

 

In Case You Missed It

At  the International Mission Board, Phil Bartuska shared four ways missionaries can leave well for the field.

For those planning to go overseas as missionaries, there will come a day when they and their families board a plane with one-way tickets in hand. They’ll be nervous but confident that God is making a way for them to take the gospel to the unreached.

 

Every missionary has this experience in common. Whether single or married with children, this experience bonds all missionaries together. They have left behind family, friends, jobs, security, comfort, and normalcy for the sake of the gospel among the unreached. I have been thinking about that moment for years, and soon, my family and I will be stepping onto that plane.

 

Having said that, there is a lot to do here before we get to our destination. You see, we pray, plan, and prepare for the time when we land, but if we are only thinking of our future ministry, we may be missing some key opportunities to point our family and friends to Christ. The truth of the gospel should impact the way we leave home. Here are four things you can do to both leave well and prepare for your future ministry overseas.

 

Marty Duren posted an article at the Lifeway Pastors blog discussing mentoring relationships that make sense.

Over the last decade or so the concept of mentoring has taken a deep hold in leadership theory, including the church. The idea is leaders need someone with more experience than they to provide insight and counsel. In a perfect world, one’s mentor would prepare you for each and every eventuality you could face. We all know this is not probable.

 

As an older-teen and young man, my primary mentor was a truck-driver and deacon named Al Autry. When Al died, his funeral was attended by dozens of men my age and younger, all of whom counted Al as a primary mentor—if not the primary mentor—in their younger days. Al mentored me spiritually during a time when my own father was not yet a follower of Jesus.

 

In my early ministry, I didn’t need to talk to Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, or John Piper. But I did need to talk to someone who had more pastoral experience than I did. Two of my former pastors, an denominational employee, and a couple of pastors in my new locale fit that bill. While only one of them would I consider a mentor in the traditional sense, all of them filled the role in the aggregate.

 

When I moved to serve on a church staff, all the other staff members had more experience that I did, and at churches requiring greater responsibility. Every staff meeting was a mentoring session as was ministry together.

 

As I’ve grown older in ministry, younger pastors sometimes ask if I can mentor them, even if for a limited period of time. These relationships are always a blessing. But, there are mistakes pastors make when seeking a mentor. Three such mistakes are 1) thinking your mentor has to be a celebrity pastor, 2) that mentoring is always one person teaching the other, and 3) that only young pastors need mentors.

 

Not. True.

 

At the Intersect Project, Nathaniel Williams discussed embracing a smartphone-free life.

I sat around a table with a group of fellow pastors, many of whom were older than me. As our meeting concluded, one of the men planned how he would follow up with us.

 

“Does everyone have a smartphone?” he asked. The others nodded in agreement; some of them had been taking notes on their phones as he spoke.

 

I sheepishly shook my head no. I pulled out my circa-2007 basic phone and waved it in the air.

 

“How is it that the youngest person here doesn’t have a smartphone?” he asked. I laughed, admitted that I was behind the times and shared my email address instead.

 

I am used to these surprised reactions. I get them all the time. I am one of a dying breed — a millennial without a smartphone. Since more than 97 percent of my peers use a smartphone, people like me are almost extinct.

 

To be clear, my reasons for not having a smartphone aren’t remarkable. I’m not engaged in some anti-technology crusade. (I manage a website.) Nor am I interested in getting off the grid. (I still use my basic cell phone for calls and texts.) My tardiness in adopting a smartphone involves a combination of budget, stubbornness and the fact that I get along fine without one.

 

In this piece, I won’t try to convince you to become a smartphone curmudgeon. I simply want to offer a portrait of what it’s like to carry a technological relic in my pocket. To be 10 years behind the trend. To be a millennial without a smartphone.

 

At his personal blog, Southeastern President, Dr. Danny Akin shared why we need to stop and listen when it comes to Kingdom Diversity in the SBC.

I’ve been a Southern Baptist for as long as I have been a Christian. I came to know Jesus in a Southern Baptist church. I was baptized in a Southern Baptist church. I was called to ministry in a Southern Baptist church. I was educated at Southern Baptist institutions, and I have given my life to helping others on their path to ministry. In good times and bad, I love the SBC and I thank our Lord for its investment in my life.

 

When I read Lawrence Ware’s New York Times article after the 2017 SBC Annual Meeting, I was grieved. I don’t know Mr. Ware, and he and I don’t see eye to eye on every issue, particularly some of the parallels that he drew in his argument. But that didn’t change my reaction. When someone suggests that the experience of African Americans in my denomination is such that the best option may be to leave, I only feel sadness. I wish with all my heart this was not the case.

 

Chuck Lawless shared a post at his blog listing ten reasons Satan attacks families.

It’s no secret that Satan aims his arrows at families. In the Garden of Eden, he disrupted the marriage of Adam and Eve. In the very next chapter of the Bible, his influence was so great that a brother killed a brother. From that time, our homes have been in his sights. Here’s why.