It is stunning when you realize that you are a person you never thought you’d be. As I was walking alone across the empty campus from the Student Center to King Hall, breathing in the first quiet air I’d breathed all day, it struck me that I am Scott Burns.
Scott Burns was the Resident Director of my dorm when I was a freshman. Eight years ago. It was his third year as an RD, and as an incoming seventeen-year-old, I saw him as the height of wisdom and leadership. I carry a massive amount of respect for him to this day, not because I’m still a starry-eyed freshman but because as I grow myself, I learn to appreciate the wisdom and Christian skill that the Lord has given him.
Scott Burns was an RD for six years. He left to become a local church pastor in May of 2002 and I became a floundering rookie RD two months later. We never ministered side-by-side, which would’ve been a privilege.
I am now beginning my fifth year as an RD. I do not hold a candle to my old RD, either in spiritual insight or personal sacrifice. But I am now him. I am the senior RD. I am the veteran who has been here at least two years longer than any of the other people in my position. I do not say this to my credit. I say it to my surprise.
I can’t bring myself to picture myself as a seasoned fifth-year RD. I certainly can’t fathom that some students might actually view me like I viewed my RD when I set foot in Slight Dormitory. I’m not Scott Burns. Not even close.
But as I walked across the campus and pondered the reality of where the Lord has brought me and the years that he has grown me, I couldn’t avoid the burdening reality: I fill the position of someone whose spiritual stature I could barely fathom as a wet-behind-the-ears freshman from Oklahoma. Half a decade later, I stand in the stead of someone who was the epitome of Spirit-led wisdom, and whether I feel like it or not, whether I embrace it or not, whether I acknowledge it or not, my responsibility is to follow in his footsteps.
This shocks me, it sobers me, and it makes me grateful. It shocks me because time has moved so quickly. It sobers me because if anyone pays attention to me like I paid attention to Scott Burns, I had better be exemplary and I had better be consistent, because I really paid attention to my RD. And it makes me grateful because when God graciously opens my eyes to see my own Christian life from a helicopter view, I realize that He has indeed me carried me and advanced me and progressed me and moved me along the path of Christlikeness. I stand amazed, but it’s true: I’ve grown.
I am someone I never thought I’d be, and I’ve spent the afternoon and evening marveling at that idea.