As your InterVarsity staff worker, can I (one last time!) offer you some advice and perspective—a few words of truth that will hopefully help you in the transition you’re about to face?
It was my belief that, after graduation, the world would take care of me. Starting in the “real world” would be just like starting college my freshman year. I would quickly discover a fun, loving group of people who were waiting to be my best friends, would help me grow, and would someday stand in my wedding, of course!
But no one was waiting for me to arrive. My church, my workplace, my neighborhood—they were all full of questionable, needy, anxious individuals clustered together. I’d never felt so alone.
Honestly, you too will probably feel lonely for a couple years. (A mentor once told me that it takes an average of 18 months to really settle into a church. I found this to be true.) And when you’re lonely, it can be tempting to curl up in a dark corner, write off your work colleagues, or spend every weekend traveling out of town to visit old college friends (who are also feeling lonely).
But resist that urge. Be still where you are. Look and listen: there’s a miracle waiting to happen. Whether or not you were a leader in InterVarsity, God has decided to use you to change the world.
Don’t be afraid or discouraged. You are not ill-equipped. Here’s a staff secret: The hours you spent greeting and inviting new students into your life through New Student Outreach? The thousands of dollars you helped raise to fight human trafficking? The way you prayed faithfully for two or more non-Christian friends? It is a grand conspiracy. We, InterVarsity, have gone ahead and trained you to be a leader in the world. God brought you to InterVarsity to be equipped to be a world changer.
You are light to the world. And the world is in desperate need of you. It needs people who notice visitors at church and automatically set up a time to meet them for coffee. It needs people who notice ethnic minorities at work and will talk about how racism is real in policy meetings. It needs people who walk across the street (and you’ve walked farther on campus) to knock on a neighbor’s door and see how they are. It needs someone to gather strangers and friends around issues of human trafficking.
The world needs you to remember all the ways God taught you to live like a light on campus—and to repeat those actions in whatever place he’s called you to now. When no one else in your Bible study or workplace is living justly, purposefully, compassionately, stand out by living the full and outrageous life you lived on campus.
Be salt, sprinkled into human communities that have lost their flavor. The truth about our workplaces is that they are actual communities, as real as our church communities. Yet sadly, they are often dull shadows of what we think of as community because no one at work talks about serious things, gossip runs wild, and everyone seems to have an agenda. But this isn’t the way it is meant to be. They are communities that need renewal. And you have real experiences from campus to fuel a vision for how communities living the way God meant us to live can bring joy, healing, purpose, love, and freedom to people. Lives transformed, offices renewed.
When you feel alone in your efforts, remember that you’re not. “Take heart,” Jesus said. “I have overcome the world.” It’s still true today.
As for me, I eventually took a deep breath and looked up and around me. And I caught a vision for how God was at work. When I stopped being afraid, I found myself at my neighbor’s monthly rager for environmentalists, being greeted warmly by a friend who was as surprised as I was that I had arrived. He sought me out later to tell me that he felt I understood him because he was a gay activist far from San Francisco and I was an Asian American activist far from San Francisco. Unbelievable.
In addition, at the bookstore where I worked, I started a book club with coworkers I thought didn’t like me. After months of coffee shop meetings and deep conversations, I later realized that they were the only non-Christian friends I had after college.
In my job as InterVarsity staff, when I first meet a student I begin to dream of who they will be when they graduate. How will their gifts, passions, and experiences converge to answer the world’s need?
And now here you are. Don’t be afraid to hit the ground running. Jesus has overcome the world and he’s made you to be a world changer.
I am so thankful for you.
Your InterVarsity Staff
P.S. I forgot to have you fill out an Alumni Form. Are you free next week?
Alice Liu is on staff with InterVarsity at The Ohio State University. She enjoys blogging about Asian American life, chasing her rabbit around the house, and drinking green smoothies.
Check out the other posts in our ongoing “Wisdom for Graduates” series: