Lately, it’s seemed to me that our college years can be a lot like a flash of lightning across the sky: burning with energy, slightly terrifying in thrilling sort of way, and – perhaps most of all – gone before you can even figure out what just happened. These are some of the most formative years of our lives, but sometimes it is easy to forget this. I’ve often found myself anxious and wondering, “How in the world I am supposed to become the person God wants me to be when I have so many commitments? In fact, it feels like I’m not even committed to myself!”
Here’s the thing: while it is definitely true that we can stretch ourselves too thin sometimes, I’ve come to realize that all of our schoolwork, activities, and responsibilities are exactly what God is using to shape us into the incredible individuals he created us to be. We don’t have to wait to attend a conference, go on a retreat, or join a faith discussion group – our personal development starts here and now, wherever it is that we find ourselves. The aforementioned experiences provide valuable guidance for our journey, but they only last so long, and we eventually have to get back to our “daily routine.”
It’s precisely in our day to day lives, though, that we have to carry over the wisdom we gain from these experiences, so we can recognize and respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. For me, this has taken the form of doing little things with love, learning not to disregard the value of a particular chore or task just because it seems tedious. More importantly, though, our interactions and relationships with the people we see on a regular basis are fertile ground for cultivating mutual growth in virtue and grace. We truly become family to each other when we selflessly commit to having each other’s backs every day, no matter what. As C.S. Lewis describes in Mere Christianity, “the more we get what we now call ‘ourselves’ out of the way and let [Christ] take us over, the more truly ourselves we become.”
This is one of the great paradoxes of our faith: we must die to ourselves in order to truly develop and become who we really are. Because of this, it is so important for campus ministry to “function as the friend of genuine personal development and as an ally in the quest for healthy self-fulfillment” (EBTS). As student ministers, we are friends to our peers by caring for their needs, offering them compassion, respect, and honesty. To be allies, though, we must also be actively seeking the same goal with them – namely, self-fulfillment as intended for us by God. By doing this, we can lift each other up, reminding each other that our personal development is happening every day of every semester we are in school. Then, when the time comes for our next big adventure, we will hopefully find ourselves that much stronger and closer to God for it.
Campus Ministry Leadership Institute 2016 Directing Team
St Mary's University