It’s January, and that means I am at the halfway point of my internship at West Ridge Church. It’s been an awesome experience this far. Not only am I learning a lot about working in full time ministry, but also I am learning a lot about myself. I thought I would take some time and review some of the things I have learned this far in my internship:
OUR SPIRITUAL GIFTS ARE IMPORTANT
I had the opportunity to serve in other ministries before taking on this internship at West Ridge. I learned a lot about ministry in that time, but also dealt with a lot of frustration. Through a book we read and time with the interns, I’ve learned a lot about spiritual gifts. I’ve learned that a lot of the frustrations I have dealt with in the past were based not understanding my gifts or the gifts of those around me. I think in order for people to work together, we have to understand how each of us is wired. Once we have a good understanding of our wiring, we can do all sorts of things together.
THINGS WILL BE HARD
I’ve learned, without a doubt, things will be tough. I have no doubt that God has placed me here in the season he has to learn to deal with tough situations. Tough situations can range from equipment that quits working suddenly, to dealing with the passing of two staff members, or even just working with other people. Full time ministry has all of the same hard parts of any job, with some added. I’ve learned how to better deal with the situations. From talking it through with mentors to seeking God’s wisdom through prayer and scripture.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
Now, as a communication intern, communication may seem like an obvious skill requirement. Although I may be a good communicator and deal well with others, the people I may be working with may not be. Doing communications in a church is a job that requires you to have a 10,000 foot view as the church ministry as a whole. You have to filter through all of the events and happenings at the church to the ones that fullfil and accomplish your churches mission. You have to decipher what your “audience” needs to know most. You cannot be a part of a communication/media team without fully embracing the vision of your church or organization.
I read the book “Love Does” by Bob Goff several months ago in the beginning of my internship. I absolutely loved it with every ounce of my being and was inspired to be a “doer” of love. I was inspired to make an impact on people the way Bob Goff did by genuinely loving. The biggest issue I had was figuring out what it looked like for my life. I’m not a well off lawyer who has sold a bunch of books and is an adult with a family. I had a hard time applying it to my life. I learned through Andrew Pray, our worship pastor who passed away tragically that Love Does looks different for each person. Although I may not be in the same situation as Bob or Andrew, I can be just as intentional. Andrew made a huge impact on his community by being intentional with those he lead. As this summer approaches and I will be in charge of a team of 22 college students, I am working on ways to have that same kind of impact and intentionality with the people God has entrusted me to lead.
GOD IS A MULTI-CHANNEL COMMUNICATOR
Several of the lessons I have learned while being at West Ridge have come front God using several different channels to tell me. He has used messages on Sunday, meetings, lunches, and conversations to speak different things into my life. I’ve learned that He does that more often than not, it’s just a matter of listening.
I CAN’T NOT LEAD
One of my biggest mistakes in applying for my internship was the motivation that I didn’t want to lead. I wanted to be somewhere I could soak in good leadership and not have to lead. I realized I am not built that way. God has wired me as a leader. In fact, He made leadership my greatest spiritual gift. To look for an opportunity to not use it was just lazy and cause me to be uncomfortable in the beginning. Thankfully I have gotten over that discomfort through certain tasks at West Ridge and things outside of West Ridge. Good leaders can work under and take in good leadership without giving up their own leadership. Mentorship is key.
PLANNING IS IMPORTANT, BUT SOMETIMES ITS USELESS
I heard somewhere once “Preparation begets presence.” I liked that. I love being over-prepared and planning in advance. It gives me security and confidence in what I am doing. What I’ve learned is that sometimes, our preparation doesn’t matter. There were SO MANY instances in the last 5 months where plans completely changed. My first taste of this was our 15th anniversary service we spent so much time planning and prepping for. God had a different plan. Just as the first song was starting, the power went out. A transformer blew and we had service in the dark. We also dealt with the passing of our worship leader. Despite all the Christmas planning up until that point, everything had to be re-hashed out. Thankfully he was very organized and had much of the work done already. I think it’s safe for us to always prepare, knowing that God may have other plans.
I’ve learned more about simplistic modern design than I thought I would. By no means am I creative force in this area or even claim to be good. But at least at this point I know what good print and modern web design should look like and I can help take things that don’t flow well and help them flow much better.
MY BOSS IN MINISTRY
The last lesson I will mention (but by far not the end of the lessons I’ve learned) is that you only really have one boss in ministry. While there may be a chain of command in your church, your only goal is to answer the calling God has put on your heart. While you may have people over you in your area, don’t focus on impressing them. Focus on the calling that God has given you and don’t let things get in the way of it.