Rest

For those who just finished another academic year, congratulations! It’s the Monday after finals week and commencement here at KU. In Lawrence today, it feels as if the university and the whole community has breathed a giant sigh of relief. Traffic is lighter. People are calmer. The pace is a little slower.

We have arrived at a space of rest.

Rest is biblical. Jesus often went on retreat — a protracted period of rest and recovery — especially after public and large (likely stressful) periods of ministry. Jesus also spent time in retreat before beginning important new ministries or undertaking difficult tasks. In this context, his retreats were prayerful times of preparation.

As disciples, we would do well to take our cues from Jesus and routinely make time for prayerful periods of rest, recovery, and preparation. Retreats undertaken in this spirit are regenerative.

As for me? I just finished my first academic year in full-time ministry as campus minister. Like many students, faculty, and staff at this time of year, I am tired from the year of many good things and much activity. I need rest.

So today, I’m leaving for a retreat. It will be a mixture of rest and recovery, prayer and preparation. I pray that it will be a period of renewal yielding fertile soil.

What practices do you use for regeneration?

–Susan Mercer, Wesley KU Campus Minister

 

 

Speak Up Often, Listen Always

An Open Letter to Campus Ministry Student Leaders

I’ve spent the last two semesters as an outreach intern for Wesley KU, a campus ministry of First United Methodist Church. I’d been a member of campus ministries before and I’d led student groups before, but this was much different. We were starting a community from nothing and that comes with many ups and downs. If you’re doing the same, I applaud you. I encourage you to do this, even if you’re afraid of failure. You’ll learn patience, you’ll learn optimism, and you’ll learn a whole bunch of other things that I may not have. Here are 3 lessons I learned this year (sometimes the hard way), dedicating my heart to the founding of this ministry.

 

Be propelled by your “wins”, not halted by your “losses.”

As I said, there are bound to be many ups and many downs. I won’t lie to you, sometimes the disappointments and the feeling of failure will consume you. This is a community you already love. Something you believe strongly in, but it might take others awhile to take the time to explore it. You know this will be good for people, that this could change their lives, but they may look at it as a nuisance at first. That can be heartbreaking. Putting yourself out there and inviting everyone you know to give the ministry a chance and then to only be met with indifference was the hardest partĀ for me.

I took me too much time to realize that constantly being mad about the people who didn’t show up is wasting time. Even if one person shows up to worship, it should be celebrated and they should be shown only appreciation and gratitude. As they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, well a campus ministry can’t be either. So, instead of seething through worship that people you invited and maybe even people who said they’d come didn’t, smile and be joyous in the moment. It’s still a victory.

Be constantly in reflection and find where you are.

A huge part of my internship was taking time with our campus minister to discuss our personal faith journey and how we are developing that part of ourselves. Never be afraid to have these conversations with your leaders. Talk about your confusions, your frustrations, and your passions. You need to take time to reflect in yourself, but don’t think you need to do it all alone. People are there to help you. You’re not perfect. Take this time and use this great opportunity to learn something about yourself. If it’s a strength, rejoice in it. If it’s a weakness, continue to grow through it.

One of the biggest reasons I wanted to do this internship was to learn more about myself and to further my faith. I felt confident that I was strong enough in my beliefs to share it with others and help them build their own. I learned that my spiritual journey is not finished and I’m the only one who could have seen that. I know I want to servce God, but I haven’t figured out how quite yet and that’s okay.

Speak up often, listen always.

In your meetings with your leader(s) and your peers, you’ll find times where you want to hold an idea or opinion in. Maybe you think it’ll seem stupid. Maybe you think it’ll be unwelcome. Make it heard anyways. Find a way to say it respectfully. They might ask you to explain and be prepared for that. If you hold words back, you could stew over them later in anger and that only hurts you. In the same way that you want to be heard, hear your leaders, peers, and any other community members. Everyone’s voice is valid, even if they lack your experience or knowledge in the matter.

I’ve never been one to hold my tongue. I’ve always been outspoken and loud. But I had room to grow when it came to true honesty. I was chosen to share my perspective, so I had to learn that even when it differed from my leader and my peers, I had to speak up and let my opinion be heard. Even if it changed nothing.

“Words to Build a Life On”

I’m so proud to call myself a part of this wonderful organization and wanted to use some of my last experiences working as an intern with Wesley KU to showcase just what that love and community means to all of us.

I conducted interviews at the end of the spring 2017 school semester with Wesley KU interns, their campus minister, and members of the organization. We discuss who we are as a campus ministry, what it means to be a part of Wesley KU, as well as some of our favorite experiences sharing in worship and community together.

Take a look at our newest video below or on our YouTube channel and thank you to all who have supported our work and faith journey along the way!

-Lauren Muth, Videographer

Your One Wild Life

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In this season of beginnings, I ask you consider what possibilities dwell within your deepest imaginings? What have you always wanted to try but never dared to do? What longing fills your heart with wonder? What observation fills you with awe? Sorrow? Joy? What have you always wanted to see?

What will you do with your one wild and precious life?

I believe that asking these questions and seeking their answers can lead us to a fuller life, to the very places where the colors are more vivid, the air is a little crisper, and we are fully alive.

I also believe that God calls to us through the answers to deep questions such as these. Answers that find their home in our hearts give us clues to who we are and the journey waiting for us — a journey filled with wild adventure, great love, and abundant joy.

–Susan Mercer, Wesley KU Campus Minister