July Staff Training: Rest, Restore, Refresh

Mary Henley Green, University of Texas RUF Intern  |  July 22, 2019

The best part of my job is being able to work with college students every day. I have the privilege of walking alongside college-aged girls while having discussions about Jesus and their faith. In the midst of these conversations, I constantly find myself asking: “What am I doing?”, “Did I say the right thing?”, “Did they understand what I said?”, “Was there a change of heart?”, etc. While these questions are always on my mind, they grow louder during moments of doubt, as there is no clear way to distinguish a “job well done.” That is the thing about ministry. There is no measuring stick. I will never be able to see how “successful” a one-on-one with a student was or how the Lord might have used a conversation to change their heart. But here is the thing - God knows. During those moments of questions, doubts, and uncertainty, I remember and rest those concerns in the fact that God is at work.

At July Staff Training last year, we had different speakers come in to educate our new intern class on various topics. One lesson I returned to throughout the year is that God is at work. You see, it is not just a simple phrase that we use at RUF to make ourselves feel better. There is deep truth to it in the life of a Christian. No matter how strong or weak a conversation, a Bible Study, a one-on-one, a trip, or a large group was, only God can change, save, and form the hearts of our students. Period. There is nothing I can say, change, or do to save a student. I have to depend on the work of our Savior to work through and in my students’ hearts.

In one of our study program books Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hand, Paul David Tripp explains that we are the tools the Lord uses to work in the lives of people around us. He uses the image of a garden. The tools are the equipment the gardener uses to nurture, groom, water, fertilize, and tend to the flower bed. Similarly, we are the instruments the Lord is using to work the garden even though we might never see the outcome during this season. We are not the ones doing the changing or allowing growth; we are simply the ones helping the work become accomplished.

While we are tools that the Lord uses, we can still get worn down and rusty. We need to be restored and refreshed from time to time. Staff Training helps make that possible. It is a time for us to come together and be reminded of the ultimate purpose of our work on campus. Training gives us time to process the rust and dirt from the past semester as we take in the Gospel truth that washes, polishes, and refills us for the year ahead. We come together to encourage and pray for one another’s faith and ministry. I have seen the Lord use these RUF relationships as tools to cultivate my heart for God and for ministry.

Something unique about RUF is that there is no set mold, equation, or growth pattern that we expect from a particular campus. July training helped me realize that, while every campus’ philosophy of ministry is the same, our methodology is unique to the specific campus. Like a garden, every campus is different. It has its own history, environment, weeds, thorns, and growth pattern. RUF removes the methodological mold so that we can meet students where they are in their particular context and integrate the Gospel truth into their day-to-day campus life. 

God has made each and every one of us at RUF very unique and different. This united diversity bears the image of a God who is Himself diverse and unified—Three in One. He has created us for a single purpose and has given each of us various gifts and talents. We are all different tools in His shed that He uses to do His work.

To me, the worship service night of July Staff Training gives a foretaste of our perfect garden to come. Picture a full room of staff members from RUF national, area coordinators, campus ministers, female campus staff, interns, and spouses all gathered together worshiping our creator. It is truly amazing to see this whole organization singing, worshiping, praying, and breaking bread with one another. What a powerful sight it is to see us all coming together to celebrate the work that the Lord has done and what He is continuing to do through his instruments here at RUF.