Southern Seminary’s magazine recently asked me three questions. Here’s how I answered the first:
What advice would you give to students considering doctoral studies but unsure whether they should pursue them?
Think through diagnostic questions such as these:
- What do you want to do with a PhD? Would a different degree be more prudent? (On whether a pastor should get a PhD, see “3 Reasons for a Pastor-Theologian to Get a PhD” and the related resources at the bottom of that article.)
- What school do you want to attend for a PhD? Why? How will earning a PhD under certain professors prepare you for what you think God has called you to do? Are they good mentors? Do they model what you want to be?
- If you are married, what does your spouse want to do?
- What do you think your gifts are? If you are married, what does your spouse think your gifts are? What do other mature Christians who know you very well (especially your church’s elders) identify as your gifts?
- How will you pay for this? (I wouldn’t make that question central, but it’s important.) Are you willing to go into debt? (I wasn’t.) If you are married, are you willing for your spouse to work? (I was until we had our first child.) Are you willing to work yourself? (I always worked at least part-time and then full-time as soon as we had a child.)
If you work through questions like those and conclude that this is an open door you want to walk through (and other mature Christians who know you well are encouraging you to walk through it), then go for it! But be forewarned: It’s not an easy road. You’ll have to sacrifice and persevere. But it’s totally worth it if God has called you to it.