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What Seminary Didn’t Teach John Piper

There are quite a few blogs and articles circulating these days asking prominent pastors “What didn’t seminary teach you” or some variation of that question. The questions lead many to wonder, “why go to seminary?”

In this video, John Piper is asked that question and starts by saying, he doesn’t like the question.  He complains that seminaries are too often criticized for not preparing future pastors for “1,000 things you’re going to find in ministry that simply cannot be covered in seminary.”

Instead, his expectation of seminary which Piper says he loved, was to give him the means of knowing scripture and knowing God.

With that caveat he answers a similar question, “What lesson did I learn?” in seminary.

Piper says it is this, “Don’t quit,” adding “Call on the Lord, he is faithful.”

“In ministry you can be so discouraged. You might not even be able to understand why. You might have chest tightening frustration with your marriage.”

“Those are sure to come,” Piper warns, but when they do, what he learned in seminary was “Don’t quit. Don’t walk away”.  Instead, emulate the message in Psalm 40:

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.”

Piper says the key to that text– when David was in the miry clay, he waited on the Lord.

What Piper learned from seminary is in times of paralyzing discouragement, don’t make any big decision about walking away from the ministry or from your spouse.

Seminary’s lesson to John Piper– “I will wait patiently on the Lord.”