My job is somewhat of a mystery. When I tell my family I work at a university, they ask me what I teach. When I tell friends that I’m a student affairs professional they giggle. When I tell strangers I’m a residence hall coordinator they ask me what year I am in school.
“I’m in 20th grade and no, I am not an RA.”
If you’ve ever attended college or even stepped foot on campus, you know that the energy there is just electric. So many young minds being molded and shaped and challenged and stretched. The excitement and spirit is contagious. The potential for growth is exhilarating.
I have spent the last year as a full-time hall coordinator, supervising 11 RAs and being “mom” to about 400 college students, mostly freshmen, at a large state university.
I have spent the last year coming to the realization that my job is not a job at all but rather a calling from God to love and to serve.
Although I’d love to say that most of my time is spent attending fun events, engaging in deep conversations, and helping students develop into confident and mature members of the community, in reality, much of my job is meeting with students when they get into trouble.
And as we all know, the path to adulthood is paved with more than a few poor decisions and silly mistakes.
It’s easy to dread these meetings and having to hold students accountable to university policies and procedures. I on the other hand see these meetings as my number one opportunity to show them the face of Jesus.
Paul writes in Galatians, “Brothers, if someone is caught in sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently” (Galatians 6:1, NIV).
Paul doesn’t admonish those who are caught in sin nor points out their faults and failures. In fact, he doesn’t talk to the sinner at all. Instead he speaks directly to the person on the other side of the table.
Restore them gently.
Restore them lovingly.
Restore them with compassion and kindness.
How many times have we had those tough conversations and just been down right mean? I have, more than once. Being defensive and rude is easier. Admonishing and belittling others makes us feel good in the moment. But know that this is not what God asks of us.
Paul tells us “as we have the opportunity, let us do good to all people” (Galatians 6:10, NIV).
And oh boy, the opportunities are endless!
When disciplining our children, talking with our spouses, sharing with friends-
And in my case, meeting with my students.
I have the words “Galatians 6:1” written on the drawer where I keep the files of students who made not-so-great decisions. I pray before I meet with these students and reflect on God’s calling for me as a spiritual person in the position of restoring.
On the eve of a new school year, I know that I can’t shelter my students or make their decisions for them. All I can do is pray for them, encourage them, and keep my office door open for when they need me.
by Laura, Along for the Ride