My job is somewhat of a mystery. When I tell my family I work at a university, they ask me what I teach. When I tell friends that I’m a student affairs professional they giggle. When I tell strangers I’m a residence hall coordinator they ask me what year I am in school.
“I’m in 20th grade and no, I am not an RA.”
If you’ve ever attended college or even stepped foot on campus, you know that the energy there is just electric. So many young minds being molded and shaped and challenged and stretched. The excitement and spirit is contagious. The potential for growth is exhilarating.
I have spent the last year as a full-time hall coordinator, supervising 11 RAs and being “mom” to about 400 college students, mostly freshmen, at a large state university.
I have spent the last year coming to the realization that my job is not a job at all but rather a calling from God to love and to serve.
Although I’d love to say that most of my time is spent attending fun events, engaging in deep conversations, and helping students develop into confident and mature members of the community, in reality, much of my job is meeting with students when they get into trouble.
And as we all know, the path to adulthood is paved with more than a few poor decisions and silly mistakes.
It’s easy to dread these meetings and having to hold students accountable to university policies and procedures. I on the other hand see these meetings as my number one opportunity to show them the face of Jesus.
Paul writes in Galatians, “Brothers, if someone is caught in sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently” (Galatians 6:1, NIV).
Paul doesn’t admonish those who are caught in sin nor points out their faults and failures. In fact, he doesn’t talk to the sinner at all. Instead he speaks directly to the person on the other side of the table.
Restore them gently.
Restore them lovingly.
Restore them with compassion and kindness.
How many times have we had those tough conversations and just been down right mean? I have, more than once. Being defensive and rude is easier. Admonishing and belittling others makes us feel good in the moment. But know that this is not what God asks of us.
Paul tells us “as we have the opportunity, let us do good to all people” (Galatians 6:10, NIV).
And oh boy, the opportunities are endless!
When disciplining our children, talking with our spouses, sharing with friends-
And in my case, meeting with my students.
I have the words “Galatians 6:1” written on the drawer where I keep the files of students who made not-so-great decisions. I pray before I meet with these students and reflect on God’s calling for me as a spiritual person in the position of restoring.
On the eve of a new school year, I know that I can’t shelter my students or make their decisions for them. All I can do is pray for them, encourage them, and keep my office door open for when they need me.
by Laura, Along for the RideLeave a Comment
This was timely for me – thank you!
Anna B says
This is a WONDERFUL post – as someone who lives in a University town, I can relate to what you’re saying. I’m in 24th grade myself, and not affiliated with the university, but those kids can be SO FRUSTRATING! In fact, a lot of the world can be frustrating. To approach them with grace is such a needed reminder. Thanks!
Holley Gerth says
It’s all about grace and truth. Thanks for the reminder! So glad you’re on (in)courage today!
(laughing) I can relate to this post on some many levels – not only do I work at a University, but my two-turning-three year old is determined to prove he can do it all himself. (Like most college freshman I know) Thank you so much for your wisdom – the bible verse is going up in my kitchen this week!!
Thanks for including “talking with our spouses” in your message today. I have to really watch myself when I get angry with my husband because it is all too easy to spout off “in the moment” just to make myself feel better.
I hope to restore my daughter, a prodigal , gently, but she will not even talk to us at all, or see us at all. So all we can do is pray. She is 26 yrs old and walked away from us and God almost 2 yrs ago.
It is a painful experience for us and I am sure it must be for her, yet she is rebellious and stubborn to the point of no repentance yet.
I pray that God brings her to see His love for her and she submits to Him and He brings her back to the fold. Then we can restore her gently. We love her and have tried to show her love since she has been gone, but she rejects it. Yes, we have gotten angry with her and she has us as well, and we’ve all said unkind things, but we have apologized for our harshness, and she still remains bitter and chooses the world over God and her godly parents.
Please pray for her and us.
I appreciate your post. It is beautiful and I pray that someday soon God will gift us the opportunity to restore her gently.
Tweets that mention Restore Them Gently -- Topsy.com says
[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sarah Mudd, Heather Massey. Heather Massey said: This is why I love my job! https://aws.incourage.me/2010/10/restore-them-gently.html #fb […]
Laura, you are awesome. 🙂
Beth Williams says
I can completely relate to your story. I, too work at a University – in the Student Health Clinic. It is a nurse-managed clinic run by NPs (nurse practitioners).
You are right on with praying for students. Some patients can be nice & Easy going, while others not so. It helps to know that God is on this ride with me giving me the strength to encourage some of these students.
I appreciate this post so much as a student going through a higher ed & student affairs program currently. Sometimes I get super frustrated with student affairs in general, especially as a Christian, so I really enjoy reading about other Christians in higher ed.
Beautiful in Him says
College is such a hard and pivotal time…I know I took the wrong path and how I wish someone would’ve been there to guide me! We had the honor of volunteering at Passion 2010 (Louie Giglio/ Chris Tomlin) last year and are eagerly awaiting this year. It’s awesome to see studnts lives transformed by Him…
Love this word of grace and I relate to it as a former student affairs professional. 🙂 Definitely something I think of often when disciplining my own children. My mother always restored me gently. I never felt condemned even as a prodigal daughter. It showed how great her trust was in the Lord for my life!
Thanks for sharing today.
shelly @ Life on the Wild Side says
Hooray for you! Investing in the lives of college students. What a wonderful calling. I loved your post.
This is true: “And as we all know, the path to adulthood is paved with more than a few poor decisions and silly mistakes.” I so wish that wasn’t the case. Especially as a mother, I’d prefer my children to bypass those mistakes, but I know they need to grow.
This is a great post. I love that Galatians verse (and have been studying it recently, too!), and love that you keep it in your drawer to refer to before talking with students.
A New Season. « says
[…] I read another blog that reminded me of why I love my job. Because I so deeply do. I was so thankful for this post […]