Days of new activities, students, planning can take a toll. Starting with a midnight pancake breakfast and ending over a week later with a tour of Cincinnati – and with open houses, dinners, and meetings in between – outreaching to students in campus ministry is exhausting. All I want to do is crawl in bed or curl up with a book. But I must keep going during these first weeks so that students are aware of the ministry.
This isn’t easy when so many other things are vying for their attention – moving into dorms, finding their way to classes, buying books, wondering how their professors will grade, landing a job, preparing to teach, hanging out with friends. Why would campus ministry be in the picture at all? It’s difficult enough to juggle what is required to get that degree. So, it appears the exhaustion is not only on my part.
Maybe there’s a way to connect with this mutual feeling. How do we deal with this overload of activity? Jesus promises that all who labor and are heavy laden will find rest in him (Matthew 11:28). Exhaustion may bring us to that place where we can’t do anything but rely on God. But what does this look like today?
Campus ministry doesn’t have to be more club to join or responsibility to add to an already full schedule. (Though, I will admit, many times it can feel like it and it’s tempting to call students to such a practice.) No, such ministry can provide a way to see everything in our lives as a response to God’s grace.
Instead of fighting with the rest of the world to succeed, we can rest with our identity in Jesus. Whether students gather in small groups to pray, for worship, or even over a meal, together we can encourage one another to step out of the practices that are wearing us down and take up others that bring life. More importantly, we can together look to the cross, the place where God wiped out everything that separates us from him.
Taking time to gather as Christians on campus doesn’t have to be just one more thing. No, if done well, it points to the One who puts everything else in perspective and ultimately relieves our exhaustion.