Several years ago I thought of leaving campus ministry to take a church job. When I told my kids they literally began weeping and wailing, “No! Don’t do that! We like InterVarsity! We love students!”
I didn’t leave InterVarsity, but I did leave direct grad student ministry to direct our team and work with faculty. My kids are less enthusiastic about both aspects of my new job.
As Ling said recently, “What’s great about hanging out with a bunch of 40 year olds?”
“You really miss students, don’t you?”
“Well yeah! We used to have barbeques every week and they’d play with us. It was even fun after I turned 7 and you said I couldn’t jump on them any more.”
Last night, 2 former students came over for dinner and it reminded me of the gift it was for my kids to grow up with kind Harvard grad students surrounding them.
Danny, who now serves at our church with 2 kids of his own, and Nick who just ran for Parliament in the UK, got to watch me change 4 month old Ling’s exploding poop diaper while I led our first Mark Bible study at the Kennedy School.
I can still picture Paul, now a research scientist in Berkeley, sitting against the wall with 3 month old Kai-Kai in his lap, gently and repeatedly stroking her curly black hair.
We hosted apple pie baking parties and pool parties and multiple dinners. Through it all, my kids provided entertainment for students, and students who loved on my kids helped me get my job done. To my kids, Harvard grad students’ sole reason for existence was to be playmate and friend. And that identity was actually really good for the students!
Lily got to know the kids last summer when we were all in China together, and she stayed in Beijing to study. Home on a visit, she wanted to see the kids so she and her fiancé came over for dinner. She asked questions about high school and middle school and appreciated Kai’s deviled eggs. They reminisced together about the summer. The kids were even somewhat cooperative about cleaning up from dinner because they wanted to look good for Lily.
I work in student and faculty ministry because I think the university is one of the most strategic places to invest my energies. The students and faculty we work with will shape our future in every aspect of life—education, technology, business, medicine, academia and more.
But the best perk has been loving and being loved by students.