Sem-2 Mentality
Tuesday of the Last Week of Pentecost
27 November 2018
A dear professor of mine had been trained in the European system of pre-ministerial education before World War II. When he told us about what he was expected to learn we wondered how anyone actually succeeded in graduating from the university. When his students expressed amazement at the rigorous training he had undergone, he said, "Oh, you don't understand! The day I graduated and contemplated being a parish pastor, I wanted to go back for four more years of training. I was quite sure I was not yet ready to serve as a pastor." This intellectual humility is necessary in all who are being prepared by God to lead the flock redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus!
When I started seminary thirty-eight years ago, I was impressed by students in their second year of the four-year seminary program. They seemed to know so much and be so certain about everything. To find out everything they knew all you had to do was ask them. They had an answer! We called this the "sem-2 mentality."
Men who had returned to the seminary from vicarage for their fourth year of training were much less certain of themselves. They had found out that in the crucible of reality God sends trials to His holy preachers to destroy their self-confidence. They then have no choice but to depend completely on God. They had learned to bear the cross. The "sem-2 mentality" seemed to dissipate when you got a little experience. Not just everyone who knows a little Greek and has read the Bible once or twice should be entrusted with the church's teaching office. Only God makes a preacher and a theologian under the suffering of the cross of Christ. In this way, God destroys our vanity to deepen our insight and kills our pride to raise us to service.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"If someone is able to write four Greek words, to explain one psalm, he is puffed up by his knowledge as if by yeast.The result is that he thinks he is walking on the clouds, far above other human beings.
"I learned to recognize this disease soon enough, since I was warned by so many accounts of the Holy Scriptures. At the beginning of the gospel, therefore, when God involved me in this faction (if I may call it that) against my will and by means of wonderful opportunities, I asked Him fervently to deliver me from this evil. He heard my prayer; for He kept me free from this temptation, although not so free that I did not feel it. He kept me occupied to such an extent with responsibilities, worries, perils, and hardships that all ambition was readily shut out of my mind.
"Unless God delivers us in this manner, this untamed monster overpowers everyone. Youth feels its own evils; then manhood does. For the flesh is plagued by lust, the heart by greed, wrath, hatred, and similar emotions, which trouble the mind in various ways. But these conflicts involve the Second Table and gradually subside.
"Therefore, when the struggle seems to be over, this new and sharper battle involving the First Table confronts us, the fight against presumption, vainglory, and the confidence we have in ourselves because of our gifts." 

Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis, 15.1
Titus 1:5-16

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you- if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons." This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. (ESV)
O Christ, burn down my vanity. Shape me by Your cross. Amen.
For Florence Brimberry, who is recovering from a broken arm, that she would be strengthened in body and soul in her time of recovery
For President Dale Meyer and the faculty of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, that they might form pastors by the cross
For President Trump, that God the Lord would grant him wisdom as he carries out his office
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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