At the Global Staff Conference in Uganda, sitting at a table with people from all over the world, I was slightly overwhelmed. Leslie Dawson, Edify’s Director of Spiritual Formation, stepped onto the small stage and shared about what the first day would look like. Scripture reading. Art projects. Free time. Prayer. Being in nature. Okay, not necessarily what I expected or prepared for – I was thinking of meetings, speakers, and seminars. But this day was just what I needed, and what would prepare me for later on reflections on a Summer of growth.
The importance of this day encapsulates my entire internship experience this summer. As I look back on these reflections on a summer of growth, I see they are marked by significant professional learning coupled with important and essential spiritual growth.
How God Met Me in The Journey
On this first day of the conference, I dove into Psalm 46. I tried to quiet my thoughts to hear the words of God, just as Leslie advised. I felt Him remind me over and over of Psalm 46:10. BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD. Be still! Something I struggle with on a daily basis. And know that I am God! I need the constant reminder to consider God’s character; that He is constant, good, and faithful.
I left that first day with a call and a challenge for the rest of the summer. I wanted to learn to be still in the presence of the Lord and know His character on a deeper level.
Throughout the summer, I read several books for the internship, and several on my own. In the midst of thinking about being still, these books all seemed to scream the value of slowing down. Slowing down and being still, pretty similar theme, right?
So What Books Made Such a Big Impact?
As I think back through my reflections on a summer of growth, one book in particular, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, taught me about the character of Jesus as slow and still. While He was busy, he was not in a hurry. He took TIME for the people who were around him. As a believer desiring to imitate Christ, I want to slow down my life.
But what does this slowness bring forth? Yes…a deeper, more intentional love for God. And also a greater understanding of what it looks like to love your neighbor.
In Generous Justice, Jesus is called “the Great Samaritan to whom the Good Samaritan points.” In modeling my life after Jesus, in response to the grace and mercy I have received, and in obedience to the Bible’s commands, I want my heart to be continuously stirred to care for the poor and needy in my community.
Building on these ideas, When Helping Hurts outlines good, practical ways that communities and individuals can come alongside and help those who are poor without causing harm. Often (continuing with my theme for the summer), this takes time. It takes listening. It takes intentionality.
Time is a rare commodity. But I don’t think that more time is necessarily the answer. Nor is quitting your job and starting a non-profit. Or living in the woods. But I do think there is capacity to restructure our lives to point our daily exercises back to Christ (I highly recommend Liturgy of the Ordinary). We can prayerfully pursue our passions and relationships. We can pour into others and love others well. We can invest in our church and its work in the community. We can thoughtfully respond to others and the world around us as Jesus would.
As a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill, I am suddenly being forced to consider my future after college (scary!). This summer has been tremendously significant and has changed the trajectory of my life. I want to turn away from my pursuit of the most prestigious job, designer clothes, perfect family, etc., that I naturally chase. I long to restructure my life such that my highest calling is the pursuit of the only thing of eternal significance, a deeper relationship with God (Matthew 6:19-20).
I could write many more paragraphs of reflections on a summer of growth, but for the sake of your time, I won’t. Overall, I learned far more this summer than how to put together a social media strategy or edit the back end of a website. I am so thankful for an organization that did not just oversee my work and productivity but one that took the time to invest in my growth…for eternity.