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Students at commencement

Ministry in Context

Good gifts, good growth

If I were going to boil down the essence of the early six-month evaluations that I'm reading from supervisors and internship committees, it would be this:

  • God has given good gifts to this intern.
  • We are seeing some good growth in this intern.

The specifics, of course, vary. The particular blind spots or areas of struggle differ from one to another. The areas of particular giftedness range widely. The yet-to-be learned ministry skills are not the same. The personality traits that enhance or impede ministry are specific to each person. The strengths upon which to build aren't uniform across the group. In short, the details on these mid-year evaluations differ widely for each intern, as one would expect.

Yet, in one way or another I hear these two deep truths keep coming up:

  • God has given good gifts to this intern.
  • We are experiencing good growth in this intern.

In the Gospel text for the Transfiguration of Our Lord this coming Sunday (Matthew 17:1-9), Peter is a sort of patron saint of interns. Peter was going about his business when Jesus came calling. He followed, not sure what it would mean. And he kept getting it right, and then wrong, and then right, and then wrong, and then... That sounds like a lot of call stories I hear, and I don't know of any faithful intern who doesn't get it wrong from time to time, or make embarrassing mistakes, or experience the need for forgiveness. Just like Peter.

But Jesus called Peter, loved him, hung in there with him through it all, and then said, "Go feed my sheep." While I hesitate to exactly equate any of you with Peter, I do believe that Jesus will do the same for you.

These evaluations are meant to facilitate conversations of gracious accountability among the intern, supervisor and internship committee. Interns, please engage them with a minimum of defensiveness and an awareness that while God has already given you good gifts, God most surely intends for you to continue to learn and grow in grace, pastoral skill and wisdom.

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