As a seminary student, I remember being jealous at times of the attention that was shown by some of my esteemed professors to the guys who were from Russia, Siberia, Ukraine, etc, taking classes at the seminary. Admittedly, they were a different breed. They had a different kind of attitude about them than we American students. In my navel-gazing world (not yet married) I didn’t understand this difference.
Now I do. There was a seriousness of purpose that seemed to characterize these students. They laughed, they enjoyed themselves, but in class they were inquisitive–not like us, who were always jockeying for attention, or trying to bait the professors, or trying to show the other students how much more learned we were than they–they were genuinely inquisitive, and their words often profound. No wonder they were well-liked as students by the faculty. A teacher loves a student who doesn’t think he knows everything already.
To one degree or another, I was one of those brats (not the sausage) that thought I knew something when I really didn’t know a thing. I often treated seminary like it was a prolonged stay on adolescence. I had fun. Too much fun at times. I didn’t apply myself as I should have to my studies. I was not nearly as serious as one who is training for the Office of the holy Ministry ought to be. But, I was also an American. Life’s a big party. And I wanted to be the life of that party. Shame on me!
These men that I used to not understand and of whom I was even sometimes jealous, deserve our utmost admiration and respect. The conditions under which they must serve their people with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ are extremely challenging. Their churches are often very small. There is very little money. They live in poverty. During Stalin’s reign, all Lutheran pastors were murdered. Their sense of duty is, in many ways, worlds beyond our own (or at least, my own), and much of this is because of the cross that they have had to bear. They get it. They know what is at stake. Do we?