Just booked a flight to Louisville for the end of February for entrance exams @SBTS_PhD. Now, back to studying!
— Nate Claiborne (@nateclaiborne) January 24, 2014
I’ve waited a bit to say anything directly, but back in December I submitted an application to start Ph.D studies in the modular format through Southern Seminary. My original plan when I went to Dallas was to stay all the way through to complete a Ph.D (or go elsewhere and do so). Getting married changed the trajectory of that, but the idea of Ph.D work never really went away.
We felt God leading us to move back to Florida when I graduated, and so I put Ph.D work on hold in favor getting involved in a local church and spending some time in the classroom teaching. Much of what I’ve been doing as a book reviewer has been a placeholder activity for “school” when I’m not in school so that the eventual transition would be easier.
For a while, I even contemplated just not doing a Ph.D and even this past summer was looking more for a job in as either an associate or youth pastor rather than as a teacher. But, all of those doors closed, and in the fall I started back at the same school I’ve been at since we moved.
Later in the fall though, Ali and I thought independently of each other that God might be leading me back to school. Also throughout the fall I felt more confirmed in the classroom and pursuing excellence in teaching, rather than pursuing vocational ministry in the church. I still want to be heavily involved in the local church, but I really want to work with college students in the classroom. In order to do that though, I need to complete a Ph.D since I’ll always be at a disadvantage for teaching opportunities without one.
I realize having one is not an instant guarantee of a job, so I’ll continue to teach where I’m at, and hopefully add some adjunct positions to compliment other work that I do (like working for Docent Research Group, something I might talk about in another post). I do think that it will improve my thinking skills and ability as a researcher. I hope that in doing so, it will also lead to professional development as an educator.
Though I’m glad I waited a few years before embarking on Ph.D studies, I kind of came full circle to where I would have applied if I went straight from Dallas. In my last semester, I started an application to go to SBTS and focus on some aspect of Christian Philosophy. Now, 3 years later, I’m applying for the same thing, but with a bit more focus and direction. I’ll be applying for the general Ph.D in Christian Philosophy, and if I pass the entrance exams, I’ll be starting this fall. I really don’t know how good my chances are, but if this is God’s leading, and Ali and I think it is, then I’ll hopefully be going back to school this fall and racking up the mileage points going back and forth to Louisville.