One of the most significant lessons of my staff career came at an unexpected and, in hindsight, embarrassing moment. But because of what InterVarsity believes and how we apply it, it led to one of the sweetest moments any staff worker can experience.
My supervisor, Joanne, was on campus with me and we were doing the walk and talk, which was a hallmark of our supervisory appointments. At that point, I had helped lead the witnessing community back towards a trajectory of growth and we'd started to see people make decisions to follow Jesus. That was good and worth celebrating. I was succeeding at my job.
As I was sharing about my success, Joanne asked me, "Who isn't in the room?"
My answer came quickly, "White males."
Just then a group of white males walked by. These guys were as far from what I'm like as I could imagine. I'm Latino, born and raised in Puerto Rico, a mechanical engineer turned staff worker. As I looked at this group, I saw white (likely Italian?), liberal arts types. I saw a bunch of guys who probably spent all their free time bulking up in the gym and who laughed at the dumbest things. I saw tank-top-and-backwards-hat-wearing, think-they’re-all-that fools. I disdained them--and I didn't even realize it.
So, without batting an eye, I said something like, "Look at them! They think they've got it all figured out. I just want to smack them upside the head. They don't know a thing!" Let me just remind you that I was talking to my supervisor!
InterVarsity believes in "the value and dignity of all people created in God's image to live in love and holiness, but alienated from God and each other because of our sin and guilt, and justly subject to God's wrath." All people, even the ones I didn't like or didn't understand. It is right there in our doctrinal basis. The same one I sign every year.
Joanne, who is probably less like those young men than I am, replied in a very matter-of-fact way, "Well, I wonder if it might be good for you to start asking God to help you see what he sees when he looks at them?" I felt convicted. She was right.
Joanne essentially invited me to live out the implications of that statement in the doctrinal basis I affirmed. It was a statement that I knew intellectually to be true, but clearly hadn't applied to how I led on campus. So I prayed. I prayed for myself and I prayed for that group of young men.
And wouldn't you know it? God answered.
My disdain turned into compassion and I began to develop relationships with some of those young men. Some time after that, I walked alongside one of them as he asked his questions about Christianity and shared his pain and doubts from his experience in church as a kid. I was with him as he prayed to experience God, and became a follower of Jesus.
One of the most significant lessons I learned early in my staff career may have come at an unexpected and, in hindsight, embarrassing moment. However, because of what we believe and how we apply it, it led to one of the sweetest moments--seeing someone experience new life in Christ!