Campus Ministry is full of many different types of people with a lot of different personalities, beliefs, and habits. I've been involved in my campus ministry for four years now, and I've seen a lot of stuff happen. I've seen the leadership model for student leaders change three times, now. I've seen missionaries, staff members, and students come and go. I've been shocked by the walls being painted red instead of grey, and surprised when an air hockey table appeared in the student lounge.
The thing about campus ministry I wish I could fix is the topic of this article. I don't like it when I see people exhibit the qualities of the 12 types of Catholic Campus Ministry people you don't want to be. Simply put, the negative repercussions of having any of the following tendencies is simple - you will distance yourself and others from Jesus Christ. Sometimes we don't know it's a problem until a wiser person lets us in on the secret. I have nominated myself to be the secret-sharer today.
I just ask two simple things before you read this. First: please look at this list with a lot of love for yourself and others, because no one is perfect... but that doesn't excuse us from becoming better people. Second: Since I am guilty of a lot of these things, I am sharing this now because I wish someone had warned me before I started causing some damage in my relationships and in my campus ministry. For example, freshmen year I was so infatuated with a boy (who was kind of interested in the ministry) that I'm 99.99% sure that my obvious desire to know him scared him off. I want to save you from regrets like that, so please read the following list and reflect on it:
1. The Spotlight Lovers
These are the kids who don't share the microphone with others. This can happen when people are called to share their experiences after a retreat/conference, during small group, or even at Praise and Worship.
These kids have zeal for knowing, praising, and talking about God. This zeal is so innocent that they get lost in their love for God, which can become problematic. There's a natural time limit when it comes to opening and sharing, which is the struggle a Spotlight Lover has to wrestle with.
Jesus calls us to look and serve others more than ourselves. If you think you are a Spotlight Lover, redirect the spotlight to someone else in your ministry OR pray that all the glory goes to God whenever you talk/lead praise and worship next time.
2. The People on the Lookout for Future MRS or MR, not Jesus
Whenever I hear a boy say "I'm ready to be wife'd up," I grimace and back away very quickly.
I react the same way when a girl says she is ready to be married right now, if only "Mr. Right" showed up. YIKES my dudes. The following are three big things I want you to consider if this sounds like you, which are as follows:
1. It seems you are not trusting God's timing for your next romantic relationship.
2. I fear you might be putting having a romantic relationship above having a relationship with Jesus - because if you loved Jesus first, your desire for marriage wouldn't consume you with worry. Instead, it would fill you with hope.
3. What if the best way you can serve God right now is by embracing singleness? What if you're missing lessons from God you need to learn before you start a relationship?
The solution is you need to keep running to Jesus, keep trusting His timing, and try not to worry.
3. The Holiness Bullies
Invitations make people feel wanted and included. After-the-fact accusations (Why weren't you at the Apologetics meeting?) makes people feel excluded and not-holy enough. It could also be that moment when you ask someone "Do you even own a Bible?" This doesn't make anyone feel good about seeking out Christ - it makes them feel judged and less-than. Feelings of guilt is not what Christ is all about.
The solution to this is to avoid thinking someone doesn't love Christ enough when they aren't at an event or don't know this-or-that about the faith. Everyone's schedules are different, especially in college - and so are everyone's faith journeys.
Take a step back and remember everyone can increase in holiness NO MATTER WHERE they are. Someone can glorify God by working a double shift at Michael's or by sitting in the chapel praying a rosary.
4. The Conference & Retreat Groupies
The culmination of our faith isn't at a retreat or conference, but some people's excitement about these events make it seem like it is. The source and summit of the Catholic faith is going to Mass and receiving the Eucharist.
Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy retreats and conferences. I always leave the experience with new information about living my faith out better. It's important to remember that these events aren't necessary for faith to grow stronger, but they are helpful tools.
Right now, everyone at school is super pumped for this huge conference happening during winter break.
The kids going on the conference, in general, are forgetting not everyone can afford to go and that conferences like this aren't the source and summit of our faith. The easy solution is to take a deep breath and try not to boast about being able to go (especially when others cannot).
5. The "Bolting After Mass" Type
These people never stay and chat after Mass. They are GONE before I'm putting away my hymn book after the last song. Maybe they have somewhere to go, a service project to begin, etc. But I wish they would stick around and say hello to the other kids who went to Mass with them. Then they could make some friends, maybe even get a Mass buddy.
The simple solution to this is people who bolt after Mass should stick around and see what happens. Smile at people. Say hello to someone who frequents the Mass you frequent.
On the other end of that situation, regulars at each Mass should reach out to these people and engage in conversation with them, if the opportunity presents itself.
6. The "Can Only Love Jesus This Way" Type
I hear the following comments a lot:
"The only way I can pray deeply is through music."
"Jesus speaks to me through Scripture and the Homilies."
"The stories of the saints are the best way to know God."
It's fine if people have a favorite way to get in the praying groove, but sometimes people are not willing to try to find Jesus in a new way because they have gotten comfortable seeking Him in a familiar way. All I ask of the people who only seek Jesus through one path is that they branch out. Try something new. Jesus is able to use anything to reach out to you, and guess what? He is reaching out for YOU.
7.The Kids Who Never Stop Fasting
There is a time for fasting (removing/adding something to your life to draw you closer to Jesus) and there is a time to stop. Jesus didn't fast for the entirety of his ministry - he fasted for the beginning of it, then did three years of amazing work. During his amazing ministry, he was compared to a drunken and a glutton because he ate with sinners on a regular basis.
All I'm saying is there is a time for fasting and a time for doing God's work in other ways.
8. The Emotionally Virtue-LESS Kids
This type of person reminds me of the "Wife Me Up" or "Where's my future husband?" people. The passion for human connection in romance often clouds the judgement of these kids. These kids (often freshmen) are so wrapped up in the idea of how cute someone is, how chaste they appear, or how holy they seem that they forget to look at people as FRIENDS FIRST.
My tip is to gain emotional virtue. Don't look at that cute person as a future-someone-to-treat-me-to-sweet-dates and don't look at people as characters in a play starring you. Follow this order of operations: Jesus First, Friends Second, Love Interest Third (if at all). My best advice is go on a dating fast for at least 40 days while striving after the Lord as much as possible.
9. The Sin Encouragers
This is the type of person who encourages you to do stuff that will distance you from God. This is the person who tells you that drinking obscene amounts of alcohol for the sake of getting wasted is cool. This is the person who encourages you to disrespect your parents, lie to your friends, and/or to cheat on that exam.
In Mark 9:42, Jesus says "Whoever causes one of these little ones - those who believe in me - to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea."
You've been warned, Sin Encouragers. Get to know the words and laws of Christ and love them because they lead to better living... then act in accord with said laws.
10.The Non-Critical Thinkers
Ay ay ay. These are the people who see that the ministry is struggling, but do not think critically about how to fix it. Let's say small group attendance is dwindling. The Non-Critical Thinker wouldn't take the time to ask important questions of "Why? When did this start happening? Is it my fault or has the business of the school semester gotten to my small group attendees?" Thinking critically is a good skill to have in all aspects of life, so start exercising this skill like you would a muscle.
11. The "Barely Involved in Ministry But Wannabe Missionaries" Type
Since becoming more involved at my campus ministry my sophomore year of college, I started recognizing that a lot of my friends who want to be missionaries fall into two categories.
One type of this person is a wannabe missionary is already super involved at the campus ministry - like, they are on every committee and at every event. The other type of wannabe missionary is someone I've never seen helping out at any of our campus ministry events. In fact, this person has been around so little that I didn't even know his/her name.
What I remind myself of often is that Jesus calls us to serve Him in many different ways outside of a campus ministry, and maybe that's where He spoke to the hearts of these future missionaries... but I wish these kiddos had gotten involved with their own campus ministry before wanting to impact another one.
Why do I wish this? Because we could've used their zeal for God to strengthen our community before they leave on their mission.
12. The People Who Never Reach Out to Others
It's quite simple. These are the people who never reach out to people beyond their own friend group, small group, Mass buddy, committee, etc. Don't deny yourself the opportunity to make someone feel welcome at the ministry.
Jesus loves it when you reach out to people, even when shaking someone's hand and asking for their name makes you shake in your boots. JUST DO IT. Your kindness wins people over to the kingdom of God.
Maybe you've seen these kids around at your campus ministry. Maybe you are one of these people. I am guilty of being a Spotlight Lover, Looking for a Future MR and not Jesus, being a Holiness Bully, being Emotionally Virtue-LESS, and being a Non-Critical Thinker.
I usually find myself working on one of these topics at any point in my faith journey. But I never lose hope that even when I'm engaging in not-so-great campus ministry etiquette, Jesus is there to show me how to listen, act, and speak with more love and generosity.
I hope you can take something from this article and improve yourself and your campus ministry with it. If someone you know habitually engages in some of these habits, don't shame them. Simply bring his/her attention to it with compassion and how he/she can improve. Then pray for your friend because being confronted with information like that isn't easy.
Let's make our campus ministries better at loving like Christ!