There’s a phrase being bandied about the web in blogs and posts these days about leaning in. There are people who encourage this, people who disparage it, and people who are just confused, and that’s okay. But for me, a couple of weeks I ago, I had an experience that took that phrase to a whole new level.
“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” I Thess. 5:11
The Professor’s Story
I was attending an evangelistic event at Brown University in Providence, and it was pretty fun. There were students performing songs, spoken word, singing, all testifying who Jesus was and what He did for them. People were encouraged, thoughtful, and generally having a good time. Then, in the middle of it all, the MC’s called up a professor who agreed to give his testimony. They way God worked it out was a miracle, because the girls weren’t sure how to get a faculty or staff member to their event, but they spoke their desire, and God answered.
And He answered past imagining. Professor Solomon is a Chemistry teacher, very unassuming and actually soft spoken, but as he began, it’s like all the energy in the room pinpointed to him. I looked around and the phrase came to mind, “Lean In”. That’s what they were doing, every single one of them. It was a pretty amazing testimony, but the amazing thing was how the students were very hungry and touched by this professor’s story. The stories of the students, and even campus ministers are wonderful, but this just hit a sweet spot. The atmosphere shifted.
Your Story, God’s Glory
When I talked to the professor afterwards, many students were crowded around him, saying how much they appreciated his words. He kept saying it was God’s work, and he was just honored to be asked, to participate and to be encouraged by the creativity and the stories of the students there. I understood what he was saying, but I also understood something else.
As a body, we really do need each other, and thrive off of each other’s encouragement. And when something precious and positive comes from an unexpected source (really? a chemistry professor? Let’s talk about stereotypes), it gives us faith, it gives us hope, and gives us courage to be more bold about our own story, which in turn opens more opportunity to encourage the body of Christ.
And that’s when we start to actually look like Him. Not bad. Not bad at all. I think I can do this version of “Leaning In.”
Akpene Torku is a campus worker who presently lives in New York City. She has a very strong passion to see the Body of Christ working together, and for the Campuses to be transformed by the Gospel of Jesus. She loves hanging out and playing games (the current favorite is Settlers of Catan), and can be bribed with chocolate.