Thank God for Gifted Professors and Students

There’s almost always at least one person who is more gifted than you are at something.

  • It may tempt you to be sinfully discontent with your gifts and jealous of others.
  • It may fuel godly ambition.
  • It may fuel humility and thankfulness.

Would you believe that this happens in seminary—where people are taking classes about the Bible and theology?

It does.

Seminarians may be in awe of how gifted some professors are and frustrated that they are not as gifted as some fellow students. So they must fight sinful discontentment and jealousy. Here’s one of the best ways how:

Thank God for gracing you with gifts to the church like those professors and students.

View them as God’s gifts to you, not as competition that is outshining you—as if you wish the flame on their candle would go out so that yours would shine more brightly.

I learned this from Peter O’Brien and write about it here:

I thank God for gracing me with gifts to the church like Carson. Peter O’Brien, a NT scholar and a close friend of Carson’s, shared that insight when he addressed a small group of PhD students at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School on 7 September 2006. He shared that he occasionally struggles with feeling inadequate as a NT scholar who is not as prolific as someone like Carson, but that he overcomes that feeling by recognizing that God graced him with gifts to the church like Carson. O’Brien taught me that instead of feeling depressed and inadequate because of scholars like Carson, I should gratefully serve God with the gifts he has given me and not feel inferior for the childish reason that I am not as gifted as someone else. (p. 273)

Related: Some of the best counsel I’ve received how to approach academia comes from these five articles and D. A. Carson’s essay in this book.

[This article was written at the request of my friends at Desiring God in connection with this series.]


  1. mike wittmer says

    Here is another thing to remember. I speak this as one who knows from experience. After teaching the same subject for awhile, even a moderately gifted person can become quite good at it. So when you’re feeling amazed during a certain lecture or class discussion, remember that it probably wasn’t this good the first time.

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