Refuge for Student Workers

This blog post is written by Helen Taylor. This is part of a series of blogs written for weary gospel workers, see here for previous blogs.

September is a big month for a student worker – filled with trepidation at everything to be done before term starts, and buckets of excitement.  

Showing new students it’s possible to have a conversation that doesn’t start with, “Where are you from and what course do you do?” and maybe even introduce them to Jesus for the first time is a joy.  

Older students returning, bringing fresh energy to church life and opportunities for discipleship is what I live for.  

But if you’re anything like me the last few weeks haven’t been filled with joy and anticipation in the same way. Maybe instead you’re already exhausted, already heart-weary and the prospect of an academic year on zoom – well you’re just not up for it. 

Students can throw anything at you and we’re going to need to be more ready than ever to extend grace, to call people to repentance and to comfort. 

Let’s be real though. That’s only going to happen if we’re willing to ask for help with those same things ourselves.  

I’m yet to meet someone in ministry who’s not tempted to self-sustain, to become the rock to which everyone else clings, to be indestructible. 

But that temptation, well, it’s out to kill us, and out to kill our ministry.  

Zoom-fatigue is real.  

Distance-fatigue is real.  

Change-fatigue is real.  

If we keep pretending we’re the only ones who don’t struggle with these things, we’ll crash.  

If we don’t adjust ministry accounting for these things, so will the people we’re trying to serve.  

Our well-being, our flourishing and the fruitfulness of our ministry this term is dependent on us being… well,  dependent.

Psalm 61 

1 Hear my cry, O God; 
    listen to my prayer. 

2 From the ends of the earth I call to you, 
    I call as my heart grows faint; 
    lead me to the rock that is higher than I. 
3 For you have been my refuge, 
    a strong tower against the foe. 

So, will you go? If you’re lead to the rock that is higher than you, will you follow? Will you go? 

What’s it for you? Netflix? Your spouse? Trashy food? Going on another run? Wherever you escape, there’s always something that will promise to be your refuge.  But there’s only one place that will take your cries, your fears and the weight of your soul.  

So will you go to the rock that is higher than you?  

Will you celebrate and live within your limits? 

Will you be careful to set zoom boundaries? 

Will you have someone ask you about your mental health? 

Will you take time for things that bring you joy?  

Will you be diligent in protecting time in God’s Word and in prayer? And time for rest? 

Will you ask for help? 

Will you let the Lord take your full weight as you walk through this next season of ministry? 

The students you’re walking alongside this term are not the only ones dealing with grief and confusion and anxiety and loneliness and fear, are they? Why bother pretending? 

Helen Taylor

Helen Taylor is married to James and works for UCCF with students in the Midlands. She loves to feed people good food and dance to good music.

Continue learning

Read. If you’d like to think more about student work and mental health then read this months Connect. A regular mailing for student workers created by UCCF.

Listen. Catch up with this recent event run by Passion for Evangelism and Community in a Crisis with Dr Kate Middleton on Anxiety, depression and Jesus.

Published by Nay Dawson

Nay works with IFES Europe as their Regional Training Co-ordinator, training staff and students across Europe. She works on the European Regional leadership team for the charity. She was the Revive Extra Plenary Director for one of largest Student Conferences in Europe. Nay is the founder of Passion for Evangelism. PfE is a network of creative, public female speakers. Helping hundereds of women grow in confidence in public communication. Nay set up an initiative called Community in a crisis. CIAC has been helping churches and charities across Europe get online during the pandemic.

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