Age doesn’t bring wisdom.
“Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” 1 Tim. 4:12
These are the Apostle Paul’s words of advice to Timothy as he “flies solo” in ministry while Paul is away. “Until I arrive give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhorting, to teaching” (v. 13), he continues.
These are the words of an older pastor to a pastor in training—we might call Timothy an “intern.” They are wise words of encouragement. Words that acknowledge that Timothy is a novice. Words that I could well share with our new Intern, Jake—whom I’m sure is very aware of the freshness of his calling.
I lift up this exchange between Paul and Timothy to remind us all about the calling we have corporately accepted in receiving an Intern. And while we are now in our second year doing this ministry, we, like Timothy, are just learning. We are a teaching congregation, who is accompanying our Interns on a journey of self-discovery, spiritual growth, and nurture. And we not only have much that we can continue to learn about hosting an Intern, we have much to learn from Jake. Because age doesn’t bring wisdom, the Spirit does.
But while Jake comes to us relatively inexperienced, he brings with him gifts, a temperament, and instruction that will shape our life together. He also brings a relationship with his wife, Mandy, that will inform his ministry and our life together. We will be called in the next months to listen for and encourage Mandy’s gifts as well as Jake’s. Jake and Mandy will, for the next 12 months, pray and worship with us, they will sit at the table with us to laugh and perhaps cry, they will listen and speak. May we soak up the rich treasure that they are giving us by entrusting themselves to us.
Jake will be given some pretty clear expectations about what he needs to accomplish over his year with us: Luther Seminary and ELCA Church-wide put the Internship Team and I to the task of helping Jake to develop the gifts he has, to build skills in areas where he lacks expertise, and to effectively manage the tasks of ordained ministry. Quarterly we are expected to provide electronic evaluations about his effectiveness to the Seminary.
The Internship Team and I are not the onlyCalvary members involved in the process of equipping Jake for ministry however. Each of you who attend worship, participate in Forum, bring your children to church, engage in Bible studies or other ministries of the church, have an opportunity to encourage and shape Jake’s ministry for the better. So, to conclude this article, I want to list a handful of ways you can support Jake this year:
Invite Jake and Mandy to dinner soon at your home or, if you don’t want to scrub the toilet, take Jake out for lunch. The Intern needs to be welcomed by you personally. More important, he needs to hear your faith story, and know who he’s preaching to, ministering with, and caring for.
Fill out a Sermon Feedback sheet—more than once—when he preaches. Each time Jake preaches he needs feedback from the congregation about how he’s doing (does he makes sense, is his delivery effective, is his theology sound). Sure, he will get feedback from me, but he needs to hear from you. When an Internship Team member approaches you on any given Sunday and asks you to write down your impressions, please say ‘Yes,’ and then return the sheet to that same person that day. (Incomplete sentences are welcomed, but relatively coherent thoughts will be appreciated.)
Say Yes when Jake asks to come visit you. Making cold calls to unfamiliar new people is totally intimidating—even for the most outgoing Intern. Say ‘Yes’ to Jake dropping by.
Stop by Jake’s Office to introduce yourself and talk. Approach him after worship and chat. Remind him of your name when you are finished talking. (He has 160 names to memorize and you only have his name to memorize.)
Invite Jake to join your ministry group for a meeting or social time. Your Intern needs to know what you are up to, how you use your gifts and skills to further the mission of the church. And, hey, it’s just fun to hang with you. You’re interesting people.
Ask Jake to visit you at your workplace. If you can swing it, and your boss is cool with it, let him see what you do when you’re not at Church. Your workplace is where you live out Christ’s love in the world. What a great opportunity for Jake to experience that.
Respond gently. If you can’t hear Jake when he prays, if he makes a statement that you don’t understand or somehow offends you, let him know. But be gentle and good-humored. He wants to learn from you; and that will be a lot easier if his defenses aren’t up because you were less than kind.
So you see, we all have marching orders for the next 12 months. We’re not quite novices, having accompanied Carrie through her internship this past year. But we’re also wise enough to know that we can always learn something new about this Internship Process with each new Intern who is entrusted to us.
Serving Christ with you,