“You will never be smart enough.” For those who study church history and theology, these words by Dr. Doug Sweeney are some of the most freeing words you will hear. The constant pressure to know more and read more can drive a graduate student crazy, but embracing our limitedness frees us to pursue knowledge with a right view of God and ourselves.
In a commencement given at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School last December, Doug Sweeney (my doctoral mentor) draws on some of the great theologians of the past to encourage Christian divinity students to approach their future ministry with three principles:
- Humility – We are limited creatures who can never know enough, and thus masters of divinity are not to master God, but to be mastered by God.
- A Learning Spirit – This humility should not cause us to stop learning, but should give us perspective as we become lifelong learners.
- Confidence in God – While we have much to learn, we can have confidence in God that we have been given enough in Christ and the enduring Word of God to minister to those in our care.
During this season of commencement speeches, Sweeney’s address (read the full version here) draws from Scripture and past theologians like Martin Luther, Philip Melanchthon, and Jonathan Edwards to offer helpful perspective for graduates, challenging them not to get stuck on themselves and their limitations, but to live out their calling boldly in Christ.