Making the Grade: When Seminary Just Doesn’t Cut It

levi rogers
Levi Rogers is a seminarian-in-waiting, type A personality, wannabe overachiever who really needs to drink a tall glass of calm the hell down. He is a teacher who relishes in his past educational successes and lives for future opportunities to teach –there’s not a second that goes by when when he’s not talking about crazy children from Arkansas. Levi spends his time reading, exercising, sending unnecessary emails, and being generally ridiculous. Levi will be teaching Algebra 1 and acting as the 8th Grade Level Chair at KIPP Delta College Preparatory School. 
[As spazztastic as Levi’s bio sounds, he’s actually a man with a great story to tell about how teaching inner city kids changed his heart about seminary. Learn more about him (and the lack of capital letters) below.]

i’ve avoided writing this since school finished because i just don’t know what to say.

i know i’ll resort to my pretentious, buck the system, rob bell wannabe, refusal to use capital letters in my post, but aside from that, what am i going to say?

long story short… i have been considering seminary for the past five years, i went for a year, and now i’m going back to teach algebra 1 in helena, arkansas.

how did all of that come about? that’s a question i am still trying to answer for myself.

i came into this whole seminary business a bit unsure about what i was doing. i thought i wanted to work in a church for about five minutes and then quickly realized that was not my path.

i then spent a lot of time asking the question, “so what is it i am doing here?” the fact that i could not form an adequate answer to that question made for a pretty challenging first semester.

this difficulty was compounded by the fact that i was taking classes in which i was constantly engaging in the social injustices and societal ills that run rampant in our society while so many of us go about our daily lives and sip on our lattes. i was fired up, ready to change the world, i missed my students, and i ran back to helena every possible chance i got.

i was ready to fix to world. right now.

i like to claim that i calmed down second semester, but that is not true. i spent january and february planning out the rest of my life and just exactly how i was going to fix the world. i was looking for the perfect church or non-profit to serve in my second year so that i could simultaneously solve poverty in atlanta and transform everything about the church.

as to be expected, i had a hard time finding that placement.

in the midst of all that, i got a phone call from a good friend from helena informing me that she would be taking over the school in which i worked last year. she requested that i come back and join the school’s leadership team.

here i was, in the midst of attempting to find a placement where i could make a real and substantial difference in people’s lives, and i got a phone call offering me an opportunity to do just that.

so i said yes.

then i said no.

then i said, well maybe.

then i said yes again.

(i think this process likely continued a few times over, as those of you who know me well can attest)

so, here i am, taking a year off from seminary.

i know that statistics and probability says that i will not return to seminary, but i don’t really like to let statistics tell me what to do. all i know is that i am grateful for the opportunity to come back to a place that is dear to my heart and work with kids who i care about deeply.

now back to this “saving the world” business. it wasn’t until i was working on my final sermon for my preaching class that i realized my high-and-mighty desire to fix everyone and everything was a bit problematic.this urge to fix poverty, people, and all the world’s issues is problematic for several reasons, all of which i won’t discuss here, but allow me to give a small sample.

my final sermon was based on a text in the gospel of mark when Jesus (yeah, that’s right; Jesus gets capitalized 😉 ) casts out a demon.

here is a small excerpt…

“Because friends the good news of the gospel, the good news of the resurrection, is that injustice can be overcome.

Evil and death do not get the last word and healing is available, but friends it does not come solely through us.

Healing comes from the risen Lord and the second we start thinking its up to us to save the world we’ve missed the truth of this gospel we proclaim.

Because who is it that casts out demons anyway?

It wasn’t the disciples. It certainly is not me. But I hope you will join me in continuing to fight against those demons in our society today and continuing to pray.”

i cannot fix the world. i will not fix the world. but i will find a place where injustice and pain are real and i will fight those ills knowing that i do not do it alone.

it took a year of seminary for me to learn that its not up to me to save the world, but that in no way diminishes the need for me to try.

i’d say that’s a pretty good lesson.

–Levi Rogers

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One thought on “Making the Grade: When Seminary Just Doesn’t Cut It

  1. Lynnett says:

    Great post, Levi!!! “Calm down, hear direction… p.s. U don’t do the saving!” I think we both learned this lesson this year!!! Enjoy the new journey!

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