Last Sunday, opening day brought me back to that hot, sunny July afternoon in Tennessee.
My sixteen year old self dreaded the moment when my parents said goodbye and left me at Summit because I didn’t know a single person there. Consequently, walking into the unknown was scary and foreboding. Little did I know how rewarding the experience would be or that I’d feel so loved, known, and challenged by those around me. My small group leader intentionally sought me out — the quiet girl who was slow in opening up. Two weeks at Summit compelled me to become more mature and serious in my faith, and I grew because of it.
Three years and hundreds of miles away from Summit Tennessee, my nineteen year old self gets to wear a staff t-shirt on opening day and welcome those like that sixteen year old girl to Summit Colorado. Uncertainty still accompanies leadership, and questions of whether or not my small group will like me or if I can do this task well run through my head from time to time.
Yet, I remember why I’m here. I’m not here to be liked — I’m here to love. I’m not simply here to complete a check-list of tasks in my job description — I’m here to do whatever it takes to help create an atmosphere where students and grow and thrive. Every day, I have to humble myself and allow the Christ Life in me to live through me in order to do this. He is the only One who can perfectly love, accept, and minister to others. Only He can give me strength and boldness to face what’s ahead. And only He will bring the good work in His people to completion (Phil. 1:6).
At the end of the first session, one of my small group girls, now a good friend, remarked that it was the community that made the experience for her. Tired from a semester of college and preferring to be with her family and friends, she wasn’t thrilled about coming to Summit. Yes, the classes were enlightening and challenging, but our small group was where she found real community. Her vulnerability allowed her to be loved, accepted, and to grow in ways she didn’t expect. “And that,” she said, “made all the difference.”
New faces arrived at Summit’s Student Conference every 2 weeks in the summer. Each person represents a different background and personality, but each one also possesses the same need for the unconditional love of Christ. Exhaustion and sickness will not get in the way of the goal for the staff: these students will be loved, known, and encouraged while they’re here. And, praise the Lord, my life will never be the same because of it.