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As you plan your celebrations for your seniors who are graduating from preschool, middle school, high school or college, ask yourself: “Is it time you progressed towards a cap and gown yourself?”

Okay, for those of you who didn’t really like school at any level, I might have given you a little bit of a scare, but stay with me.  You have maintenance schedules all over your life. You change the oil every 3,000-5,000 miles (more in newer cars). You change the smoke detector batteries twice a year on time change Sunday. You back up your computer data (I hope) on a regular basis. You change air conditioner filters, you wrap your pipes, and you update your hurricane evacuation kit every June 1.  If you don’t know about the last one, remember I live in New Orleans.

The point is that you schedule maintenance to keep things running smoothly.  You maintain so you don’t have to repair.  What about self-care? When do you schedule maintenance for you?  Get over the horrifying image of desks and tests for just a minute and let me challenge you to go back to school.

Richard Ross and I are both serving in academic institutions and we are a bit overwhelmed at all the different ways to get seminary training these days.  In the past five years, all of the SBC seminaries have launched new ways to get ministry training.  You can work towards finishing a degree or you can earn a certificate in a specific ministry area. You can take classes online or you can come to campus for a short burst of training (weekends and five-day workshops are common). You can take classes online–for the first time in the history of seminaries, you are able to earn a degree or certificate from an SBC school without ever going to any campus.

If you are more of a learn in groups kind of person, you can go to a church in Alabama that offers seminary classes.  The New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary offers classes with a real live in person teacher in enough places so that if you live anywhere in Alabama, you aren’t more than a two hour drive away from one of the extension campuses.

So you don’t want to finish your degree or start a new one. Continuing education is also learning new things from conferences, from structured reading plans or from being mentored by someone who is a little further down the road of ministry than you are. You can also attend a conference like the Southeast Youth Ministry Conclave which is usually held near the end of January.

The point is that you have to be active in defining your continuing education goals and doing a little research on the best book, workshop, class, degree or YouTube video that will help you get there.  Don’t let the kids be the only ones who get to flip the tassel.

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