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After you’ve chosen a degree, you need to plan your study within your degree curriculum. To do that, we’ll use the 80/20 Principle.
The 80/20 Principle, also known as Pareto’s Law, is an incredibly powerful tool for time and priority management, with thousands of uses. The reality, for instance, that 80% of the work in a church is done by 20% of the people, lines up perfectly with the 80/20 principle. Or that 80% of the money is given by 20% of the contributors.
The basic idea is that of inequality: a few investments will yield the most dividend. A few salesmen will produce most of the sales. The most productivity on a project will come from a small slice of the total time spent on it. The proportions aren’t always 80/20. Sometimes they are 70/30, other times 90/10, or even 95/5.
Richard Koch wrote the classic book defining the 80/20 principle and illustrating its power and usefulness. The book is worth the read…but if you apply the principle, you can get 80% of the value of the book from reading just 20% of its content. I’ve read the book, and will share the most relevant 20% of it with you here. See? This principle is already saving you hours of time!
So back to planning your study. Having chosen a degree program, you need to ask which courses in your degree program deserve the most attention.
Fair Warning: as we flesh this out, I’m guessing that some of you will take offense to the diligent application of this principle. I probably would have, too, when I was in seminary. Not to worry. Remember that all recommendations here are suggestions, which you are free to adopt or dismiss as it suits you. No claims to divine inspiration here.
My M. Div. program was 92 hours. If we take the 80/20 rule, then on average, 18 hours of the 92 will have proved most helpful.
Next: My high value classes
About the AuthorMark Warnock is the founder and General Editor of Seminary Survival Guide.com. He serves as Associate Pastor of First Baptist Church of Columbia, Illinois, and is a Ph.D student in Christian Philosophy at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is working with Ed Eubanks on a book on how to survive seminary.
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