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Students at commencement

Ministry in Context

The Intern (Or: "I'll Call You When I Have Something for You to Do")

“I’ll call you when I have something for you to do.” Have you seen the movie The Intern, starring Anne Hathaway and Robert DeNiro? I checked it out since I like the work of these two actors, and I was curious to see the role reversal described in the film: DeNiro’s character finds retirement unsatisfying, so he decides to re-enter the work world by applying for a “Senior Internship” opportunity at a new, online business created and launched by Hathaway, a young, creative, determined entrepreneur. The surface humor and tension revolves around a young, female entrepreneur giving entry level tasks to a well-seasoned professional. But there is more to consider.

This premise initially sheds light on perceptions of what an internship experience is like, and the questions that might enter the thoughts of both the intern and the supervisor. In the case of this movie the quote, “I’ll call you when I have something for you to do” indicates a possible perception of the supervisor’s opinion of the intern’s capacity. This opinion does not necessarily hold true for all internship experiences, since I have heard stories from our Luther interns during the first weeks of ministry contexts, and some of you have not just waded into the water, but truly entered via a high dive!

So what else about this story line is worth considering? A couple areas include the shift in a system that comes with historical assumptions, the wisdom of cross generations joining together in conversation, a willingness to take a risk no matter your age, and what happens when we listen deeply to another, rather than letting stereotypes shut down the contributions from another person’s story.

“I’ll call you when I have something for you to do.”

Hathaway’s character begins to listen, see, and experience the gifts offered by the Intern. Her assumptions of the intern prove inaccurate and colored by other life stories. The willingness to engage the talents and experience of another begin to shift and enrich her journey. Soon, she is calling the Intern often because she has something for him to do, based on his talents pairing well with the needs at hand. Likewise, the Intern watches and listens and finds places where his talents and experiences are an asset for the individuals and the needs in the context. His assumptions shift too, as he travels alongside an unfamiliar culture and world, learning about himself and the strengths most needed in this chapter of life. His contributions matters, but often in unexpected and surprising ways in the midst of daily life, not the big corporate decisions.

“I’ll call you when I have something for you to do.”

Beyond the assumptions of an Internship experience, there seems to be something more at stake in these words from the movie script, and I’m not sure if the writers meant for the story line to go down this path. When pondering the quote, “I’ll call you when I have something for you to do”, my thoughts went to all the story lines (past, present and future) where God shows up with a call, often when least expected and through the voice of another, inviting us to use the talents God gives us for the work God needs doing.

Whether an Internship call, a hospital call, a friend’s call, a broken-down car call, a First Call, a burning bush call, a settled call, a coffee shop meeting call, or prayer chain call, to name just a few-when God has something for us to do, it is my hope and prayer we are listening and we are mindful of the talents and gifts God has woven into each one of us, with an intentionality of equipping each of us to do what God needs us to do in the world!

To all God’s beloved…who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 1:7



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