It’s Fall, which means semesters are beginning, students are arriving, and excitement is in the air on many college campuses. These are the days we love as college ministers! These are also the days when we need a few reminders as twelve-hour days seem to never end.
1. Students see things we don’t.
Think about all the places your students go that you don’t. From dorm rooms to vehicles, students are involved in deep conversations. The reality is that students trust each other more than an adult at times. Have we trained our students to listen for needs, to see holes in a particular environment, to have their hearts engaged to hear the whisper of the Holy Spirit? What a joy it is to help a student successfully aid another student. Which leads me to ask, are we paying attention to what our students see?
2. International students want to join the party.
With all the kick off events and fall happenings on campus and within your ministry, have the international students been invited? Beyond the invite, do they understand what’s happening? For instance, if one event is “thrift shop bowling” do they understand what a thrift shop is, can they get to one to shop, and do they know to wear the tackiest outfit they can find while they bowl? Working with our leaders to assist international students in a way that helps them enjoy the party is a huge step in building relationships.
3. Partnering is so much better.
Partnering can be hard but it can be so much fun as well! Whether your ministry is partnering with churches, campus ministries, campus groups, or university departments, partnerships enrich relationships and your reach on campus. Yes, it can be messy and complicated and frustrating at times—but the good outweighs the bad. If you haven’t had a chance to partner with another group who has a different sphere of influence, try it sometime. You will see a multiplication of ministry each time.
4. Students are hungry for mentors.
At times college ministers have natural mentoring relationships and at other times we have to go out of our way to establish those. As we pray about who to meet with one-on-one, pour our lives into, and challenge regularly, we may have to take the first step. Asking a student if they want to be mentored can be awkward but it can also be the first step in an amazing relationship. If the Lord has placed a student on your heart, ask them! Take the first step confidently because we know they want mentors. If the Lord is telling you to ask them, we can be pretty sure He has already gone before you and is working in their heart, too.
5. Posture is everything.
We aren’t talking about how straight you’re sitting right now but rather your posture before the Lord. As we get tired, it’s easy to shift to a place where we rely on our strength instead of God’s. Do you have people around you to remind you to take time to rest in Jesus? Maybe you have those people who know you well enough to tell you when you’re cranky or short-tempered, signaling that you need sleep, coffee, or time spent in submission to the Father. Each of us must carve out that time to sit with the Lord and position ourselves in a place of humility to follow His leading.
In reality, none of these reminders are earthshaking or brand new. However, they are things the Father keeps reminding me. Am I willing to slow down and listen, to explain things that I don’t think need explaining, to partner even when it’s difficult and I don’t get the praise, to take that awkward first step, and to submit myself and my ministry to the Lord continually? Just imagine the Kingdom impact if we practiced these five reminders.
Dr. Beth Masters has served college students going on 15 years on multiple campuses in FL, LA, and MS. Currently she serves as a ministry-based faculty member at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is a resident in the Clinical Pastoral Education program at East Jefferson Hospital in New Orleans.