The Rigors and Joys of Seminary

Posted by Paul Beausoleil on May 31, 2024
The Rigors and Joys of Seminary
Paul Beausoleil and his wife Morghan celebrate at his graduation from The Master’s Seminary Spokane on May 3. Photography by Anna Copley

“Seminary was the best thing that ever happened to us,” my wonderful wife Morghan said after worship service this Resurrection Sunday. “I wish every man could go and experience it.”

She took the words right out of my mouth.

There is nothing quite like seminary. I’ve compared it to medical school, law school, and even, in some respects, the police academy. The rigors are similar—the outcomes unsure. It’s not for the fainthearted.

It’s not hard because of the multiple thousands of pages read, countless hours writing on what seemed like every biblical subject imaginable, or the two languages which professors push students to master. It’s hard because the man entering seminary knows what’s at stake: rightly handling the Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15), as well as administering tender shepherding care to eternal souls. The Master’s man cannot leave seminary without coming to grips with this—and so he works diligently, leaning on the Lord’s guidance and strength.

Grateful for God’s people

I would be remiss in not giving credit where credit is due. Without Morghan, my incredible wife, I would not have made it. Period. There is nothing quite like seminary; it’s tough for the men who choose to endure it. That does not begin to speak of the difficulty for seminary wives. God must mature and equip extraordinary women to be able to sacrifice day after day for the benefit of their husbands’ equipping and for the future expectation of fruitful ministry.

The seminary wives group encouraged Morghan throughout Paul’s time in seminary. Pictured from left are Martha Smith, Claire Rush, Morghan, Katherine Murphy, Michelle Sayers, and Linda Jarms.

Seminary wives, just like the men, need the comradery, encouragement, and exhortation from other seminary wives. Morghan’s equipping from the older, experienced seminary wives (e.g., Linda Jarms, Michelle Sayers, Martha Smith, and Claire Rush) offered the motivation to continue to do what seemed impossible: love me through seminary!

Difficulties aside, I look back on my time at The Master’s Seminary Spokane with great joy. The men whom I was privileged to sit under—Brian Sayers, Bruce Turner, Dan Jarms, John Smith—and the men who poured into me—Ian Rush, Paul Funchess—were as important to the seminary experience as the classwork itself.

Yet, a great deal of joy came from the myriad of different courses I was able to take over my four years. If I was forced to pick my favorite classes, I could narrow it down, beginning with my Hebrew classes—especially Exegesis of Psalm 119 with Dr. Bryan Murphy. It was in this class that all the little “cogs” clicked. Before, I had a grasp on hermeneutics and basic Hebrew grammatical concepts, but I had no idea how to put them together. Then, Dr. Murphy taught us how to walk through the process, from translation to exegesis to synthesizing the material into our own words, every week. At that point, I really felt like I could walk through the text on my own, in the original language, and arrive, confidently, at the meaning of the text. I had a similar experience in Exegesis of Revelation with Dr. Murphy, only this time in New Testament Greek. Both classes were invaluable, helping equip me as an exegete and provide me the confidence I needed to work through the original languages.

The seminary faculty pray over Paul during the graduation ceremony May 3.

Another integral class in my seminary experience was the Expository Preaching Lab with John Smith. Standing up in a classroom full of other seminary men, whose sole objective was to critique my preaching, was intimidating. Yet, I grew so much as a homiletician during that semester. Seeing the components of presenting God’s Word that were missing in my preparation, or “tightening the screws” in other areas that were weak, was immensely beneficial.

Beyond the classroom, as a man and aspiring shepherd, I benefitted immensely by watching Dan Jarms. Seeing his gentleness and compassion for people helped me understand what being a faithful undershepherd looks like. It is easy to read about it in books or listen to exhortations in sermons; it is something else entirely to see it lived out. For that, I am beyond grateful, both for his mentoring and modeling of pastoral leadership — but even more so, for his friendship.

Season of growth

I cannot pretend that this was not a season of immense growth. I knew, and Morghan knew, before coming to TMS that we would grow more in this period than any before it.

It didn’t take long. Weeks into my first semester I understood the reality of the oft-repeated refrain, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” This motto remained true even entering my final systematic theology class, on eschatology. I had little idea of the myriad of eschatological views, much less which one I held. The intellectual growth, being able to form convictions about Scripture and doctrine, was essential. However, all of my growth wasn’t intellectual—I grew much spiritually during my time in seminary. For that, I am eternally grateful.

Future ministry

Now we are entering a different season—more changes and more opportunity for growth. In the fall, I’ll be starting the master of theology (Th.M) program at The Master’s Seminary, furthering my studies in the Old Testament and on the trajectory, Lord willing, to work on a Ph.D. Long term, my prayer is to be able to give back to this local TMS distance location in the way it gave so much to me—teaching and equipping the next generation of men who are pursuing full-time pastoral ministry.

For now, I will be able to take my training and my love for men’s ministry within the local church and combine the two. Lord willing, I will be offering a men’s Bible study at Faith year-round, making it available to any men who would like to attend.

June 15 will be the first meeting for a 12-week men’s summer Bible study through Psalm 119. I “re-purposed” my Psalm 119 class from seminary, crafting it into a detailed Bible study. I’ll be teaching the men how to analyze some very basic elements of Hebrew as well as equip them to work through some important questions in order to arrive at the biblical author’s main idea. We will be studying in order to “dig our wells deeper.” In addition, we will be encouraging fellowship and accountability between men.

After the summer study concludes, I plan on taking the men through Revelation 1–7 with the same goals in mind: encourage fellowship, growth, and accountability; strengthen understanding and confidence in studying Scripture; and equip men with Bible study tools.

It’s worth it

Let me conclude with an encouragement to any men considering seminary training: It’s worth it. It is worth it to expend yourself physically and mentally to rightly handle the Word of truth. It is worth it to give up what you believe will be a life of ease in order to learn how to shepherd God’s people. It is worth it to live a life of faithful service to your Master. It is worth it. For Morghan and me, it was the best thing that ever happened to us.

Paul Beausoleil

Paul graduated from The Master's Seminary Spokane in 2024. He and his wife Morghan have four children.

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