There is a difference between balancing school and work for some of us who have families or already work in ministerial or other positions; there can be a disconnect between these areas of our lives if we do not tend to each other equally. This is something I learned the hard way during my first year of Seminary, and I hope this blog post will be helpful to new or returning students. Even the Bible says (Galatians 6:7-9): “Let us not be weary in well-doing, for at the proper time we will reap a good harvest if we do not give up.” This is a beautiful verse, but it warns us not to become weary because God knows that if we do not balance our lives, we will become tired before we can reap the benefits of the harvest in all areas of our lives. I found balancing your family, especially with children, challenging, as many parents know that life with children can be unpredictable. Then we have homes, finances, travelling for us Hybrid students, or living at home for the first time. The most manageable area in which we lose focus is our relationship with our spouses, family, and friends. I brought some scripture and tips to help others as we begin another school year, so hopefully you can gain some wisdom from my experiences last year, and we can make this a fantastic year in each area of our lives that we value.
Balancing School and Work can be challenging for some who work full-time in ministry or another type of job. Going to school as a new student, mature student, resident, or distant learner is a full-time job without adding a family or full-time outside employment. Giving yourself as much of a routine as you can is the best way to help take some of the load off and not be sitting up till the wee hours of the morning. As a mom of four children, I spent all my evenings doing school last year due to some unexpected health challenges in my family. Soon, my self-care started to drop off, and my marriage was next: my health. It’s easy to look at the future and push through our days. We dream of the future but must live in the present to get there. Time management is vital. Prioritizing assignments and family, communicating with professors if you need an extension, or reaching out to student services can be great resources to help balance work and school and honour God’s call. (Job 31:6)
Balancing work and family is another priority that can slowly tip to a negative balance as papers come due simultaneously or work and school projects collide. Family is more important to God than many other things we do in this life, except putting him first, and by putting our time into our families, we put it back into our relationship with God. (Genesis 18:19) Even as early as the beginning of creation, God highlighted the importance of family for us to focus on. If you have a family, then you know that work is essential to keeping the fabric of your life with them together. Adding school can be a big adjustment for you and your partner, children, parents, and siblings. We all have responsibilities and commitments in our relationships that play a significant role in our existence and happiness, regardless of whether we are married with children, siblings who live with our parents, or individuals who have just moved away for the first time. Spending quality time together is an area that can help your loved ones know they matter, even if it’s for a short time. What matters most to others is whether it’s quality or quantity. Being flexible with your spouse and commitments is also an area where you can find some balance. Communicating your needs with even your youngest children can help them understand you better and feel included in this new journey. A wonderful way to honour your family and the Lord is to involve everyone in the conversation, listen to each other’s worries and joys, let them know they are valued and important, and explain how your faith in God and them inspired you to pursue a career as a pastor, theologian, or chaplain. (Deuteronomy 5:16) Making sure that your family knows how important spirituality is to you and how special they are to God can bring school and family closer together in a more harmonious way. Including them in family events at the school, if possible, is a way for them to feel like they are with you on this journey, as is showing them school videos on YouTube and Instagram if you are a distance learner, and taking lots of pictures when you travel to Grand Rapids. These are some helpful ways to bring more spirituality into the school journey and include your family in the process so that it can help prioritize them and help you manage your time and responsibilities.
God has placed a calling on your life for you to attend Calvin Seminary. If this is your first year, I hope you can take some of my experiences and use these tips to make your start at Seminary smoother than mine. If you are a second-year like me and still trying to find your rhythm, then you can try some of these tips I am now using, and we can both hopefully have a better, more balanced year. If you are at the end of your journey at Seminary, then I hope these tips are still enough time, and even if you can use one for your final year and make it just a bit more blessed, then so be it. The stress of jumping into something new can be both exciting and daunting. Trying to keep going after a year of ups and downs can also be challenging to hold on to the end game at times, or the exhaustion of keeping things balanced and moving for an extended time can cause some havoc in your life physically, emotionally, and spiritually, but know that God is with you and it is worth each step. As we go into another academic year, see that I have this scripture and hope for all of us. ( Galatians 6:2) Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the laws of Christ.
By Amanda Mason