For Becky Przybylski, listening is more than just taking in words and sounds. It’s a way of living in deep relationship with God and others, transforming in his will and time.
“Those years were some of the sweetest times in our life together.”
Graduating with an M.Div in 2006, Becky draws from her rich experiences at Ashland Theological Seminary to help others grow in their spiritual journey. Once an associate and senior pastor, she now speaks, consults, and develops retreats through A Listening Life, an organization she founded to help others practice listening deeply to God in their lives, relationships, and the world. With four kids, ages 14, 12, 10, and 3, this busy mom literally practices what she preaches every day.
Becky and her husband approached her time at Ashland Theological Seminary with faith and intentionality, leaving their jobs, downsizing, and relocating to campus housing. Committed to being “all in,” they got involved with campus activities together: “I didn’t want the seminary experience to be something I was doing in isolation,” Becky says. “As I was growing and changing and transforming, I wanted my husband to experience that, too, and have access to those relationships. Those years were some of the sweetest times in our life together.”
Learning to listen through relationships is a recurring theme in Becky’s years at the seminary. From professors who shared their lives and ministry experiences to community members who “adopted” the Przybylskis and now act as another set of grandparents to their children, people took them under their gentle–yet challenging–wings. Becky recounts a particularly joyous memory of taking prayer walks on campus with her advisor who also taught field education classes. “We always had that ear to God. Often we would get a sense of something we needed to do, like go to the president’s office to lay hands on him and pray. My advisor was an advocate and mentor, and his support was formative for me.”
Throughout the community, seminary professors focused on academics and on spiritual life: “Some of the faculty members were really exceptional at weaving those aspects into their classes,” Becky explains, “and I took it for granted at the time that this is what seminary is like for everyone.” She no longer takes this focus for granted; in fact, she gives of her time, gifts, and M.Div education to help others with listening and discernment, explaining “the need for pastors and leaders to have a solid foundation of the inner life."
Becky explains that she came from a non-denominational background in which women were told they had some opportunities but often were not affirmed in practice. At Ashland Theological Seminary, she was given opportunities to lead right away: “The seminary is like a greenhouse where plants are finally given the right conditions to grow. If it hadn’t been for those conditions, who knows how long it would have taken for me to own that call and develop those gifts.”
Over twelve years later, Becky continues to grow and change as result of her time in the M.Div program at Ashland Theological Seminary, an experience that will forever be music to her spirit’s ears.
Ashland Theological Seminary integrates theological education with Christ-centered transformation as it equips men and women for ministry in the church and the world. Ashland Theological Seminary offers certificate, master’s and doctoral level programs in Ashland, Cleveland, Columbus, and Detroit. Learn more at seminary.ashland.edu.