The annual August Rush at The Master’s College continues this week as the incoming freshmen arrived on Saturday. My public responsibilities are lighter this week as others are spearheading our orientiation called WOW (Week of Welcome). So I have a bit of time to recap our leadership retreats this month.
Resident Director Retreat — The Lord entirely blessed our time away at a large house in Three Rivers, California just west of the entrance to Sequoia National Park. We rented a van for the nine of us and drove up together, made our own food in the spacious kitchen, had family meals at the dining room table, and made afternoon excursions to explore the major sights in Sequoia and play in a beautifully bouldered area on one of the three rivers. We spent our mornings and evenings gathered together to think and talk and pray about the Student Life legacy that’s been handed down to us, our calling as resident dorm leaders, the current TMC culture, and some of our aims and goals for this coming year. The Lord’s hand was evident throughout the retreat.
Resident Assistant Retreat — The RAs returned on Sunday, August 10th and we immediately jumped in on Monday morning as I retold “The Story Above All Stories,” my first-ever attempt to communicate the story of the entire Bible in one sitting. I have become utterly convinced over the last several years that comprehending the storyline of the Bible is essential for Christian motivation and ministry. But we rarely teach it at one time. So we get bits and pieces of the story, usually told only in propositions and principles, and we wonder why we don’t quite understand the mission of God and our role in that mission. Hopefully I didn’t butcher the story and will do better each time I tell it. On Tuesday I addressed the connection between the college and the church so that we can make sure we’re ministering in ways that actually prepare students to be biblically active and effective members of their local churches. If we’re not preparing students for the church and the world, then we should just sit down and shut up. On Thursday we funneled our focus all the way down to each individual wing in an attempt to see how each RA should minister in light of the college’s mission to prepare students for the church in order to help the church fufill her calling in the greater plan of God. Along the way various staffers gave practical seminars, we had working lunches with other departments, and we took a day away Wednesday as the girls went to the beach and the guys went to shoot skeet at the gun range. Friday was the infamous scenarios and we capped it off with the rousing CPR/FirstAid training on Saturday. Again the Lord richly blessed us in comprehensive ways, and I found my new role to be a joy and a natural fit.
Servant Leadership Staff Retreat — The greater Servant Leadership Staff (qualified student volunteers) returned on Sunday, August 17 and we immediately left for Palm Desert, California and the greatly-discounted Hyatt Grand Champion where we spent three days hearing God speak in Philippians 2, spending time together as dorms, and doing some fun team-building exercises. The wisely-scheduled down times allowed lots of needed opportunity to build relationships and get to know one another as a greater staff, and people seemed to take advantage of the opportunity. We arrived back on campus on Wednesday, had practical training sessions on Thursday, and spent Friday doing the technical and detailed preparations for the Week of Welcome. I spoke only twice during SLS Retreat, so I enjoyed more time getting to know students that I wouldn’t have gotten to know in past years when I was focused on my own dorm staff as an RD.
On the back end of these retreats, I am grateful to the Lord for His obvious blessings. He has been confirming His call in a variety of ways throughout these weeks, which is an unexpected joy for me as I start this new position. Yet I am also finding myself increasingly concerned about the ease with which we could operate with that covert sense of self-sufficiency that leans on worldly methods and pin-point planning and clever teaching outlines while neglecting those basic cliches of God-besottedness, rich holiness, simple dependence, private prayer, and Spirit-controlled living. If you’re praying for us, please pray to that end.