After reading several statements by women regarding their time as students at SWBTS, I decided to write one of my own. I attended Southwestern in the mid 1980’s just as the conservative resurgence was gaining steam. My experience at seminary was so very different than the women who have written about studying there recently. I am not writing this to invalidate other’s statements nor to presume that every woman at Southwestern had the same positive experience I did. I write this simply as a possible contrast between the climate under Dr. Patterson’s leadership and earlier years.
A couple of years ago I wrote an article for directors of collegiate ministries to help them better understand and more effective supervise the young women who work alongside them. The article was published online at the Collegiate Collective this week. Although it was written primarily for your boss, maybe you will find some help here too. Perhaps it will help you put words to something you have needed from him or her, but could not articulate. I would love to know your thoughts. Do you resonate with these three things? What would you have added to the list?
A Guest Post by Sheri Johnson
When my kids were little they ate a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. I would carefully craft this midday meal with soft bread, a little more peanut butter than jelly and always made sure the crusts were cut off. I served them their crust-less sandwiches with a kiss and prayer and would promptly start to clean up the kitchen. Returning the jar of peanut butter to the pantry and the jelly and bread back into the fridge, I would then get a fresh cloth and wipe up the surface of the counter as I popped the crusts of the sandwiches into my mouth. After the dishes were washed I would sit down with my kids. Sometimes we were silly, making each other laugh, other times we would read a story or I would teach them about table manners. It was a quality time of the day with my little ones.
In the afternoon, my kids would go down for their naps and I would settle in with my own tasks. When my body was stationary I would realize that I had an incredible hunger. I wondered why I was so hungry. Didn’t I just eat lunch a while ago? Then it would occur to me, I prepared and served lunch to my kids, but only had a few crusts of bread for myself. This is what I call a “peanut butter and jelly existence”.
As women in ministry, we can also have a “peanut butter and jelly existence”. God has called us to lead the women that He has put into our care. We lovingly prepare Bible studies. We spend time with women one-on-one, listening to their questions and digging in the Word for the answers. We spend hours sharing the good news of the Gospel with non-believers on campus. It is our pleasure to show others how to spend alone time with God.
Our Bibles are out; the pages are turning. The truth is extracted and shared with hungry women on college campuses. We are providing spiritual nourishment for others, but are we still hungry ourselves?
1) What are the signs that you are spiritually hungry? Do you ever “eat” on the run or skip “meals”?
2) Do you have a time each day to feed yourself? Are you able to focus on God’s Word for you without thinking of how it will benefit others?
3) When living out your week, do you safeguard your own time with God?
4) Is there an extended time each month that you spend a day with God?
Sheri Johnson grew up in Colorado, attended the University of Wyoming and has been on staff with Campus Ventures (CV) since 1992. Sheri and her husband (Cody) have served on campus staff at Northwest College and the University of Wyoming. In 2014, she stepped into the role of Women's Coordinator for Campus Ventures to train, resource and shepherd the women on staff throughout Wyoming and South Dakota.
I remember when I first began to understand that I wanted to give my life helping make disciples. I was introduced to the idea as a junior in high school. I began to grasp it and actually try to do it as a college student. I was captured by the vision of helping young men and women walk with God. It was a compelling life purpose; however, I often felt handicapped because I had never been “discipled.” Then, in my late twenties I went on staff with a collegiate ministry where making disciples was to be my full time job. Suddenly, I felt woefully inadequate as I was faced day after day with the needs, questions, eagerness and sinfulness of a large group of college students under my care and direction.
My network of relationships at the time put me around a lot of people who came from large, prominent disciple-making ministries. They all seemed to have skills I didn’t. I perceived them as smarter than me, more effective than me, and likely more spiritual than me. They shared a common vocabulary which I was unfamiliar with and often spoke of their past mentors. I regularly felt like a misfit, an imposter, or worse, a hopeless case. I found myself thinking, “Gee, if I had only had gone to college there,” or “I wish I could have attended that church.” Of course, that kind of thinking quickly deteriorated into, “Well, not much can be expected of me. After all, I didn’t have the right training. I’ll just have to muddle along and do the best I can.”
One weekend I was invited to join some friends who were hosting one of their mentors, a man who was well known as a very effective disciple-maker. God had used him tremendously in my friends’ lives and, although I had never been around him personally, I had a lot of respect for him. It was a small group of ten or twelve and we sat casually in the living room as he shared his thoughts on making disciples, and encouraged us regarding our various ministries. Toward the end of the evening he invited us to ask questions. Sometime during the next few minutes I took a deep breath and found the courage to ask, “What if no one ever discipled me? How can I learn how to disciple someone if I was never discipled?” (I’m pretty certain I said this with a distinct whine in my voice.) He looked at me and replied, “No one ever discipled me.” I was stunned. And convicted. And challenged. Here was a man who had influenced hundreds of people, maybe thousands, and no one had ever personally discipled him? In that moment it dawned on me. There is no magic wand. No secret handshake. I am a disciple by following Jesus with all my heart, and I make disciples by loving people and coming alongside them as best I can on their journey to know, love and follow Jesus.
Not long after this encounter, I was reading Romans in my Phillips Translation of the Bible. It translates Romans 10:12* this way: “For all have the same Lord, whose boundless resources are sufficient for all who turn to him in faith.” Finally, after all my self-pity and excuses, I began to understand. I have all I need to love and minister to people because I have the Lord Himself. His boundless resources are available to me. To me! There are no formulas, no charmed curriculum that “works” better than others. I have everything I need in Him.
(*Note: I realize this verse in Romans is about salvation not equipping, but I don’t think it is a stretch to apply it as I felt God applied it to my heart that day.)