The fall semester begins Thursday at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where I teach. I am excited about the young men and women who are new students training with us this semester. They come from at least 12 countries around the globe.

Having met some of them this week has prompted me to ask the question: “What would the ideal seminary student look like?” Of course, the answer to this question is something like beauty—it is in the eye of the beholder; or in this case, the questioner.

Here are my top 5 characteristics of the ideal seminary student. . . .


  1. Spiritual Depth – My ideal seminary student strives to maintain an ever-dependent and ever-deepening walk with God that involves worship, work, and witness. A spiritually-minded student feeds daily on the Scripture and breathes the breath of prayer. A spiritually-minded student reflects the character of Christ, is filled with the Holy Spirit and exhibits the fruit of the Spirit. A spiritually-minded student loves God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. A spiritually-minded student cares for the souls of the perishing. She understands that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. My ideal student is ablaze for God and lives for the glory of God!


  1. Biblical Integrity – My ideal seminary student knows what he/she believes about the great doctrines of the faith and why he believes it. He knows the Scripture and he knows how much of the Scripture he has yet to know. Like Spurgeon said of Bunyan, “Prick him anywhere – his blood is Bibline;” so is my ideal student.


  1. Professional Excellence – My ideal seminary student strives for excellence in all things in and out of the classroom. God gets his best thinking, reading, writing, interaction, and reflection. She is not mediocre in her commitment to her studies. My ideal student knows that the secret of learning is interest and the goal of learning is not information but transformation.


  1. Practical Living – My ideal seminary student lives in the real world, not the ivory tower. He is a doer of the word and not a hearer only. He/she is a good husband/wife, parent, and friend. He engages culture with the gospel. He is in the world but not of the world. He understand that truth is unto holiness. Like walking, he knows that you don’t walk on one foot–it takes both. My ideal student is balanced spiritually and practically.


  1. Attitudinal Humility. My ideal seminary student knows that the horizons of his knowledge are the frontiers of his ignorance. He understands that even the donkey that carried Jesus into Jerusalem knew that the applause was not for him. My ideal student’s motto and mantra is C. S. Lewis’ prayer: “Lord, let me be an adjective humbly striving to modify the noun of Truth.”