I Used To Think I wanted To Be Famous

Jeremy Shank  |  April 02, 2019

“I used to think I wanted to be famous.
I’d be recognized out in a crowd,
But the funny thing is every time I’ve gotten what I want its let me down.

Now I just want to look more like Love.

When Ben Rector wrote his song “More Like Love,” he probably wasn’t thinking of RUF Interns starting their fundraising, but the feelings conveyed are shared by all of us.

The first meeting I had with a potential donor felt like a nightmare. When I called to set a date, I got about halfway through my scripted and practiced introduction before he recognized my name. He was an elder at my home church, and I had no idea who he was. We planned our time to meet, and I immediately called my dad to get the scoop on him. He is very mission-minded, has been an elder in our church for longer than we’ve been involved, has grown children, and owns his own business. It was just enough for me to get working on a plan of attack. Late into the night, I was making note cards with everything I could find about his business, every demographic of Southern Methodist University (my assigned campus), and RUF. I memorized when his company started, every time his profits doubled, and any other milestone available to the public. I memorized all the information I could about a campus I had never seen. And I memorized everything RUF told us at our intern orientation. I wanted to impress him with how much I knew. I don’t know why I thought any of the company’s information would come up in our meeting, but I was convinced I could work it into my presentation and he would be so amazed by my knowledge he would open his checkbook and leave the amount blank. I would secure the biggest gift an intern has ever received and I would become a legend.

On the day of the big meeting, I drove up to a nearby Starbucks to review my notes and ensure I wouldn’t be late. I could barely drink my coffee from my shaking hands. I glanced over my information on SMU and RUF – they didn’t have to be perfect because he didn’t know them like he knew his own company. When it came time to go to his office, I had to battle through a tropical storm to get there. Dripping wet, I told his secretary who I was and what time my appointment was.

When he came to out meet me and show me around, I quickly realized this man was not a stuffy, prideful businessman, but a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-dirty leader. He wouldn’t care about everything I knew about his business. And as soon as I started telling him about RUF, he told me about his grown children. His three grown children who had all done the RUF internship and one who later became a campus minister. Not only did he know more about the internship than I did, but he knew that anything I told him about SMU was second-hand information. I didn’t know what to do. The hours I spent preparing to wow this man were completely negated just by who he was.

Luckily for me, he was an elder in the church. He knew how to look like love. He asked questions about why I wanted to do the internship. And why I wanted to work with international students at SMU. He actually cared about me. He cared about God’s ministry that I was a part of – not the other way around. He wasn’t just humoring another person asking for money.

We got to the inevitable point where I asked him for a large gift. He couldn’t give that much, but he could give me something. He gave some financial support, but more importantly, he has become one of my biggest emotional supporters. He’s always checking on me, asking my family how I’m doing, and telling me the things his children felt when they were interns.

The first thing we learn as interns is humble reliance on God. We sign up for a difficult but rewarding job and have no control over anything after that. We often go to new and unknown cities, meet people we otherwise would never know, and must ask people for financial support to do it all. On our own, it won’t happen. But every year, millions of dollars are raised, hundreds of students are reached, and cities across the nation greet new faces. Only with God can all of this happen year after year after year. And every year, prideful new faces are knocked down so they can appreciate the God that loves them so much he gives them everything they need.

I used to think I wanted to be famous. I’d be the best intern to ever be a part of RUF. But every time I try to do it on my own I’m reminded of who provides me with everything. Now I just want to look a little more like the God who loves me.