In his book, Desiring God, John Piper asserts, "If we take our doctrines into our hearts where they belong, they can cause upheavals of emotion and sleepless nights. This is far better than toying with academic ideas that never touch real life." Regardless of one's religious perspective, it is important to remember that the things which we know and learn should not be simply bits of information that can be recalled on demand, but things that change who we are and how we behave. The Faith and Work Initiative at Millsaps has provided me with many restless nights as I struggle to grasp more completely the complex ideas of meaningful work and a meaningful life. It is the means by which the academic ideas that are being presented in the various departments of the college are fused with a sense of the needs of the world- the movement of ideas from the head to the heart.
As a Lilly Intern, I work at Alta Woods United Methodist Church, a church in South Jackson. I have the pleasure of serving as the Youth and Children's minister and learning about parish ministry from my mentor, Rev. David Carroll. (Not only is David the Senior Pastor at Alta Woods and my Lilly Mentor, but he was also my youth director at Galloway). Each week, I am responsible for Sunday morning and Wednesday night activities and programming for the youth and children. I also take an active role in Sunday morning worship, leading creeds and prayers, serving communion, and I will even be delivering a sermon later in the semester. It has been a great blessing and challenge to encounter the daily workings of the church and the ever changing obstacles in ministering to people- especially the youth and children.
The internship itself has added two integral parts to the education that I am receiving at Millsaps that I could not obtain in a classroom. First of all, it has given me the opportunity to seek out and more clearly define the vocation that I wish to pursue after I graduate. Secondly, it has allowed me to do work that matters and that I enjoy while I continue in my otherwise academic endeavors. The work that I do at the church in combination with the reading selections and writing assignments that are a part of the internship have encouraged me to really wrestle with the relationship between my foundational religious beliefs and what I will do with the rest of my life. It has been an opportunity not only to obtain "real world" experience while I am in college, but to search for a means to make my life positively impact that of someone else.
Through the Lilly program, God has confirmed in me his calling to full-time ministry. It has nurtured my formation of career goals away from things such as a high salary or great prestige to a desire for finding ways that positively impact people's lives. Further, the Faith and Work Initiative has not only supplemented my academic education with real life experience, but it has focused it into a pursuit that will, I hope, lead me into a life of ministry and service.