A Few Reflections on Nearing the End of my 7 Year Masters Degree

I started soon after being married. Wow...!

I spent the weekend in Dallas putting behind me the last physical in-person class for my double Master’s degree at Dallas Seminary (Masters in Biblical Studies, Masters in Christian Education with a focus on Person Theory) – I have literally dreamt of that moment many, many times for the past 7 years. I couldn’t believe it was finally here.

As life has shown me plenty of times it wasn’t exactly like I had planned it to be. In fact, I’m not even sure what I was planning and/or hoping it to be at all – I just thought it wasn’t going to be like “that.” You’ve probably had similar experiences – it’s not that it was a disappointment and it’s not that it was the best experience you’ve ever had in your entire existence – it was just, well, not supposed to be like “that.”

But I tried – as I sat in class I waited for one of those “Aha!” moments, or some new truth to suddenly dawn on me and for me to gain that new incredible perspective – nothing like that happened. I attended the class, worked on the assignments, finished my exams, just like I had done a hundred times before. I said “Hi.” to a few people that I had met along the way and shook a few hands with new classmates, many of whom were very “green.”

In the end it was entirely rote. The clouds didn’t part and it didn’t rain so no random lightning strikes were apparent. Heck, I didn’t even get a burning bush – what a rip…! And so as I closed out the last class I began to ask myself what it had all meant – the last 7 years and what I had learned from the experience.

I was still thinking about it as I drove to the airport and even as I boarded the plane – it was rather difficult to come up with anything conclusive! Perhaps it was all still too fresh, but then one small truth hit me: I realized that it was what I have been continually doing for as long as I can remember: Execute. Do the work. Get it done. Do it with excellence. Find the next adventure and challenge.

That was lightly comforting and at least it was a starting point.

And I’m not limiting or putting down the work over the last 7 long years nor am I saying that the completion part isn’t special – it really is very special and I have to give a lot of thanks to all my professors and those that have supported me from the first day I enrolled. A lot of things have changed since that first class and even my motive for being there in the first place has shifted in some very dramatic ways, but I finished what I started and for that I’m glad.

Most importantly I must thank my wife who never gave up on me and who gave me the permission, every single semester, to take yet another class, to earn another credit hour to get me one step closer to finishing. The only time she asked me not to take a class and take a semester off was when we had our second child – I took the spring semester off to give her support and be more available, but I was right back in the saddle for the summer semester. Other than that I have been taking classes for 7 straight years without a break!

But it’s simply not enough to just leave knowing that the biggest lesson learned was one of execution – I mean, one would think I would have learned something outside of the actual classwork and I’m sure that I did – I’m just going to have to take the time to process it, talk about it, and pray about what’s next.

I apologize to my wife in advance for this image...

Ah, how much has truly changed since then! At the time my first hadn’t even been born yet, I had just walked (or crawled) through one of my very first tech startups with imploded in the worst way possible and was entertaining offers from large companies like Dell while pulling shifts at Starbucks all while taking classes in the evening. Oh, the stories I could tell you! The failures, the success, the disappointment, the joy. A lifetime captured in that one year when I first started my coursework. Too much to share in one measly blog post, that’s for sure.

But, I can tell you with absolute clarity though the things that I won’t miss at all like the time away from family, the flights out to Dallas for classes, and all the money spent on those flights, hotels, car rentals, and the like (actually, I do miss all that money… … just kidding…!).

Oh, I can’t forget! I also received tons of help from people who took me in, let me stay in their house, the nights on people’s couches, and rides to and from the airport – all via the power of Twitter! Now that’s an incredible story. I’ve made some neat new friends and a bunch of great memories to boot – the best ones included local meals that really knocked my socks off!

It’s hard to imagine that it’s over – actually, to be honest, I still have to finish out my thesis which will be done in the Summer of this year. Graduation will be that semester as well, and come fall, I’ll be out of (that) school officially and I’m not even sure what to do with myself. I’ve already looked into local degree programs for an MBA that I’ve always wanted – but I’ll save that for another post.

Never stop learning – never stop improving. You and I are never too old to become more educated and if you stop learning you’re probably six feet under (or living like it).

But praise God for helping me get this far – I would never have done it without Him.