• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Flickr
  • YouTube
Thinking Out Loud

Sacrificial Living

by Michael Jinkins | Oct 11, 2016

Opening the Doors
Sacrificial LivingOne year ago, September of 2015, marked a watershed moment for Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. It was then that we launched our Covenant for the Future Tuition Scholarship Program, which provides 100 percent tuition assistance to all master’s-level students at Louisville Seminary.

The generosity of our seminary's many friends and supporters makes this possible. This program is almost entirely endowed now. So it will endure into perpetuity. This tuition scholarship program allows us to recruit and admit the students we assess as having the greatest promise for ministry; it liberates these students, when they graduate, to follow God's call wherever that call leads.

From time to time, I am asked the question, "Doesn't this program feed a sense of entitlement among your students?"

This is a good question. And it has been raised by people whom I respect a great deal. After all don't we appreciate something a lot more when we "have some skin in the game?"

The reality, however, is that our students have invested "a lot of skin" in this game by the time they walk on to this campus. Many of them have sacrificed a great deal just to get here.

Power of the Promise
I think of the man who, having served as a new church development pastor for several years in an Evangelical denomination, after hearing one of our professors speak at a national conference, made the risky and costly decision to come to seminary because he realized that he needed a theological education if he was to be truly effective as a pastor. He and his wife and children left their home, their security, friends, family and the faith community they had known, so he could enter seminary. He has since become an inquirer for ordination in the Presbyterian church.

I think of the young man who left a career in law enforcement to follow God's call. For the first year of his seminary career, he commuted hundreds of miles back and forth between his family and the school. And, while keeping up with all of his studies and his duties as a parent, he also established a vital ministry here in Louisville.

I reflect on the young woman who walked away from an important position in the national office of her denomination because her work had awakened in her the gift of serving as a caring listener and counselor. Leaving behind her previous career to become a student again, she is now earning her degree to become a marriage and family therapist.

Then there is the student who heard about our program while doing a year of humanitarian work in India. She has graduated and is serving in a leading church of our denomination, but she would not have been able to afford to come to seminary at all had it not been for the scholarship we offered.

These are just four stories. There are scores more.

They Have Invested Their Lives
An alum of Louisville Seminary recently contacted me to say that she once felt that students needed more "skin in the game" if they were to get the most out of seminary. After all, she told me, she and her husband lived pretty lean when she was a student. But, she said, she has changed her mind after working closely with an intern from another seminary who is living hand-to-mouth, virtually homeless and on food stamps. She wrote to tell me that she now backs our Covenant for the Future Tuition Scholarship Program.

Many of our students come from financially very modest backgrounds. As many as 87% of our students qualify for federal need-based financial aid. Many others, like the earliest disciples who left their nets to follow Jesus, have walked away from established careers, businesses, homes, churches, networks of friends, to follow God's call. The ministry is richer for their presence. They will bring their gifts, wisdom and experience to the leadership of our churches. The ministry is richer, but they are not. They will be entering a vocation that is among the least well-paid of all professions, but which requires a level of education consistent with the more lucrative professions.

What we are doing does not come close to "compensating" these students for their sacrifice. But it will make it a little easier to get started in ministry, knowing that a mountain of educational debt ($25,000 - $40,000 debt is not unusual for seminary graduates) will not follow them.

Our Investment, Too
We have almost (but not quite!) endowed the Covenant for the Future Tuition Scholarship program. We need only another $79,000. And when that is done we will be adding more full scholarships that cover tuition, housing and some living expenses. I hope you will join us, if you haven't already, to make sure that the church's future ministers are liberated from seminary debt so they can concentrate on the ministries to which God is calling them.

Leave a comment

  • 1044 Alta Vista Road |
  • Louisville, KY 40205 |
  • 800.264.1839 |
  • Fax: 502.895.1096 |
  • Site Map
© Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary