One of my big regrets in life is choosing not to do the RUF internship when I graduated college. I know God's providence in my life is perfect - he led me into a wonderful job in the homebuilding industry, gave me opportunities to belong to and serve the local church as a lay person, and best of all, this was when I met my wife, so I'm grateful for the path he's had me on. But the longer I work as a Campus Minister, the more I appreciate the RUF internship. There's a lot that could be said about the internship program - the camaraderie, the staff training, the study program - all of these are great; but I think the gem of the internship is that it is set up for the intern first and for the ministry second. The RUF internship is for the intern. We don't view these recent college grads as tools we can plug into our ministry system and get immediate results on campus, rather, we see their two to three years with us as primarily a part of their lifelong process of sancficiation. It is a safe place to learn who you are in light of who God is, to learn what it looks like to serve the local church, to learn how to minister to others, and to consider what it looks like to grow up into Christ.
At RUF Staff Training last week, one of my interns, Thomas Kuhn, was asked to share how God had been at work in his life during the internship. Here is what he said:
"First, the internship changed my dependence. I thought this job would make me depend on my ability to give good counsel, to keep a conversation going, or to be a likeable person; instead it’s made me dependent upon Jesus, his Word, and his church. The internship has forced me to look beyond myself to Jesus in the midst of days where I’m feeling half-hearted at best. I expected to be caring for needy students but most of what I’ve seen is how needy I am. I thought I would become more independent as I learned to do this job, instead I’ve been driven more deeply into dependence. I am consistently forced outside of myself relationally, intellectually, and spiritually into places where I must face my fears. This job has driven me to deeper dependence on Jesus in the midst of my fear, my half-heartedness, and my disillusion with my students and myself.
Second, the internship has changed how I see my gifts. I felt extremely uncomfortable when I was asked to rate my strengths on my application for the internship. Even worse was the fact that my campus minister from college and a couple references were doing the same thing. I was convinced it was prideful to believe that God had gifted me in unique ways for the building up of his Church. The internship has given me a safe and affirming place to acknowledge and exercise the gifts that God has given me. I’ve been given countless opportunities to lead and be creative as a part of an affirming team. The internship has given me the support, structure, and challenge I needed to learn my gifts and how to use them for the glory of God.
Third, the internship has changed how I see my limitations. If listing my strengths on my application felt uncomfortable, listing my weaknesses felt like dying. For me, my shortcomings were things that I didn’t talk about in hopes that they would just go away. The internship has led me to rejoice at the fact that I am not Jesus. I am a dearly beloved child of God, but I am not indispensible. I can’t be everywhere. I can’t fix everything. I can’t know everything. I am now able to see my weaknesses as invitations for deeper relationships with students. My shortcomings aren’t merely shameful anymore, but an opportunity to show students how deeply I need Jesus. I’ve learned that Christ’s strength is perfected in my weakness. I’ve learned more that Jesus in my place is enough for me and enough for students.
God is at work. Not only in students, but also in staff. I’ve learned that our ministry with students is most impactful when we lean into the ways that God is shaping us through this job."
This is why I wish I would have done the RUF internship. This is why I believe so strongly in the internship program. If you're a current student, maybe God is calling you to consider serving in this capacity for a few years after you graduate. For the rest of you, if you know an RUF intern, would you pray for them? Shoot them a text or an email and let them know that you're thinking about them; remind them that God is at work - not just through them, but maybe most importantly he's at work in them during this time.
For more information on the RUF internship, click here.