Making An Impact
During my senior year of College at East Carolina University, I had no plans for pursuing a ministry residency until around December. I was an accounting major and enjoyed the internship that I had, but there was a verse in Ecclesiastes that altered how I was thinking about the future and what I would do after graduating from undergrad. Ecclesiastes 5:18 says “Behold, what I have found to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and enjoy all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot.” When I read this verse I started reflecting on what I enjoyed the most in life and what I was passionate about. I realized that, while I enjoyed accounting, I was passionate about college ministry. I decided to search for residencies to apply to because we had a residency with the college ministry I was involved in, but I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone and learn what it was like to lead in a new place.
While I was searching for residencies, some of the main things that I started to look for were staff culture, development opportunities, and room for impact. I wanted to be somewhere that I would enjoy being around the people I worked with, where I would come out as a better leader and more spiritually mature than when I arrived, and where I could have an impact on the discipleship of college students. All of these boxes were checked off by the Mercy Hill residency and since starting the residency all of these expectations have been exceeded.
The staff culture at Mercy Hill is something that I have learned a lot more about since coming on staff, but it is a culture that I could tell was very tight-knit and worship focused with an aspiration to do as much to move the needle for the kingdom of God as was possible. This has been evident in the goals and prayers of the staff around the ministry being done in our midst. I consider myself to be ambitious and want to make an impact in whatever sphere I find myself in and this is a big part of the culture at Mercy Hill.
When it comes to the development of the individual doing the residency, there is much intentionality from the staff in growing the residents. The Clifton Strengths Finder assessment was something that intrigued me when I was considering the Mercy Hill Residency and it has not disappointed me. The assessment is great, but the coaching offered on your specific strengths and how to grow in them and use them in your ministry context has changed the way I do ministry and lead people. Another big piece in the development of residents that pulled me to Mercy Hill was the seminary degree that is included with the residency. These classes are incredibly helpful in growing your spiritual maturity while also helping you to be more effective in the ministry you are involved in throughout the week.
Another area of development, that many people may quickly categorize as a negative is support raising. Support raising is not easy. When I was considering residencies, there were a few where I knew I wouldn’t have to support raise and I knew that would be easier, but if you want to be developed, sometimes you have to choose the harder option. There has been nothing in my life that has grown my dependence on God like raising financial support to do the residency. God is faithful and provides for where He has called his people to go and that includes when He calls people to the residency.
Lastly, the impact that you can have in the residency is awesome. This is not the same as some internships, where you only receive the tasks that no one else wants to do. Residents can contribute to the ministry they are in from day one. One avenue of impact that I looked forward to and have enjoyed much is evangelism training with college students. This is something I knew I would have benefitted from greatly in college and it has been so much fun learning how to share my faith while also getting to coach others to do the same.
– Austin Bland