How are you dealing with “Seminary Hangover”?

Reading through Daniel Wallace’s fifteen categories for the use of the adjectival genitive (yes, there are fifteen!!), I was reminded that no one in my congregation had ever asked me about the use of the genitive…not even once. Doesn’t anyone care that there is an “attributive” genitive and a “attributed” genitive and that they’re considered opposites and that there’s thirteen more where they came from? Apparently not. It is a shock to many recent seminary graduate digestive tracts when their various pontifications are rejected in favor of more basic congregant questions like “where’s my Bible?”

Please don’t misunderstand what I’m implying (or as Bush says, “don’t misunderestimate me”). I believe in genitives and I even believe in irregular verbs. However, it is easy for us as preachers to slip into “seminary mode” and preach with the shotgun of exegetical insight rather than articulating the Word with pastoral care. There will even be times where you go to great lengths to be pastoral and folks will still complain that the message is too heady. The solution is to strive for balance where the grind of hard exegesis is hidden from sight yet the fruit is laid bare for all to see. One exercise helps me tremendously in this area: fellowship. The more I intertwine my life with those in the congregation the more I see opportunities for the Word of God to be richly applied in their lives. A pastor must spend an appropriate amount of time understanding the Word and preparing for Sunday but he should never use that as an excuse to ignore God’s people. Every pastor needs to find that balance in his life. This is at least part of what Peter meant when he said, “Shepherd the flock of God among you” (1 Pet. 5:2).

9 responses to this post.

  1. Very good, Paul!

    Might I add that, in many ways, this can be an issue of humility.

    It is an humbling exercise to sweat through your exegesis week by week and then present “the fruit” in a manner a nine year old could comprehend. What’s even more humbling is to listen to some average Joe correct you and tell you what he “thinks the passage means” – why, he couldn’t tell a preposition from a proposition!

    Yet, in my saner moments, I remember the Lord Jesus… humbly, repetitively and illustratively teaching 12 mostly uneducated average Joe’s. (Think of the grammatical insights Jesus could have given them!) But his goal appears to have been to shepherd those sheep.

    O, for more grace to teach the deep things of God in the most winsome and “digestable” way!

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    – Paul

  2. […] you to sign up for our free email list and or to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!Paul Lamey on the Expository Thoughts blog has an interesting post that seemed very relevant to me as an Black preacher and all those who are […]

  3. Posted by Caleb on March 3, 2007 at 4:04 am

    Paul and Paul,

    I think you guys made some wonderful points here. What you mention above requires alot of wisdom and humility.

    Good stuff


  4. Caleb,

    I think it also requires the wisdom of Dwight Schrute who famously said, “Whenever I’m about to do something, I think “would an idiot do that?” and if they would, I do not do that thing.”


  5. We should always prepare our message with our audience in view, and it is frustrating at times to not be able to share with them the technical things we are gleaning from our study. Remembering our purpose is to expose what God has purposed in the passage, remembering to keep the passage in context, remembering to preach to both the heart and the mind so that the will is affected, and remembering to answer their question of “Why is this important to me in my life today?” is what keeps me balanced.

  6. PL,

    Wisdom from the office… How Farnell like. :)


  7. well said..

    15 uses of the genitive..bringing up memories of long nights in college..and then there was always the optative mood to screw everything up..

    anyway..i agree..we must talk to real people about our sermons..the whole notion of a pastor going into the office, closing the door, sweating, and then mysteriously coming out with a sermon has led to many sermons that say nothing to real people..

    it is humbling that the insight we need, the connection we need to make is most often found in conversations about our sermons with those who have never been to seminary or grad school..Perhaps if we take sermon planning outside, we may find that our actual sermons have some life outside and dont only breath within the four walls of our buildings..


  8. Indeed. As you mention brothers! Humility precedes and accompanies God’s blessing upon the flock He has placed us over.
    The effort that goes into our call to study His Word in His Secret, as Jeremiah puts it, is to remain there…in the study room; what our brothers and sisters are to see when the message is presented is:
    His skill to shepherd us and
    His will as He does so, and the implicit result:
    The edification of His church as He promised, for His glory.

  9. […] Paul Lamey on the Expository Thoughts blog has an interesting post that seemed very relevant to me as an Black preacher and all those who are interested in Black preaching and hearing Black sermons or sermons of any kind for that matter. […]

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: