I attended a Christian college that emphasized togetherness, so dorm life was not unlike having family around. In addition to the RA, each wing on campus had a chaplain and community outreach coordinator, along with a brother- or sister-wing to share the college experience. It worked well and made for good friendships and strong morale.
I served as a chaplain in my junior year. It wasn’t the best experience because I was a total mismatch for the wing; perhaps it is more accurately stated that many of the guys didn’t really have Jesus on their minds! But if it was paying my dues in any way, then that something better came the following year when I was promoted to be a spiritual life dorm director.
Bursting with Love
As the dorm director I worked with the men’s campus chaplain and supervised six wing chaplains of my own. I had great guys. I bore a vision of an internally strong and personally rewarding experience and not our going through the motions of doing what campus chaplains did devoid of real meaning.
I spent the first three weeks casting my vision and building camaraderie, and by the midterm I knew my group was a pot of gold. They were quality people and leaders that I deeply respected, and I really wanted them to know how much I appreciated them.
Each week we had Dorm Group, a time when we met just for peer review and any type of devotion or fun I chose. This particular week I had to get out of my system how much love I felt for these men. I was so grateful to God for their gifts and how they contributed to the group. So I decided that I would tell them face-to-face during Dorm Group, each man individually before the group; however, I also knew that I would be overcome with emotion.
Well I was one giant teardrop! But I made sure that I left it all on the table and that they knew I didn’t see my place only as the scholarship role it was. They were very gracious.
Go Ahead…Do It
Expended but relieved, I cut the meeting short and everyone left out quickly, yet they still wanted to hang out. They all decided to head down to one of the chaplain’s rooms and told me to come along. I really just wanted to sober myself up and maybe head down later, but some pined for me to come, so I did.
When we had all sat down, the host pulled back a curtain where there was a surprise party all set for me! I was stunned. They had been planning their feelings toward me that week just as I had done for them. In fact, they thought I was on to them by the way they abruptly left the room, but I had never detected a thing.
Our meeting continued in that room as one-by-one they let me know how much they appreciated me as their leader. The entire night was deeply moving. They told me later what I already knew, that it could’ve only been God knitting our hearts together like that.
Isn’t God cool? I encourage you to unburden your heart of all the love and admiration you’ve wanted to share with someone but felt too ashamed to do so, or you diminished the act. Do it. Write a letter. Whisper it during the car ride. Say it in the silence at dinner. Promise yourself. You can never guess how repercussive the kindness may become.