When did freshmen become scary? As a senior in college, I did not envision myself trying to impress freshmen. If I envisioned any kind of relationship with the wee-little babes, it would be them seeking my advice and attention because I was such a wise, mature senior. Right?
Well, that was until I decided to start a freshman Bible study. Once I took on the label of a Bible study leader, I realized I went from being pictured as a “cool senior” to someone more like the “ERMAGERSH” girl.
I cringed as I dialed the phone to make the invitation, my mind swarming with thoughts: “Will they like me?” “Do I sound cool?” “Will they show up?” “I’m not holy enough start a Bible study!” Never had making a phone call been so intimidating. Goodness, I overanalyzed everything!
I thought that to lead Bible study, my students would expect me to be perfectly holy and knowledgeable — yet at the same time, I feared they would completely write me off as a no-fun goody two-shoes. While I was freaking out, I realized I was completely missing the point of what it meant to lead a Bible study.
It wasn’t about me. Yes, God called me to start a Bible study, but He wasn’t leaving the students’ personal growth up to whether I was good enough, holy enough, or smart enough. What God was calling me to do was to let Him work through me, not get in his way. All I had to do was be myself. Trying to act holier than I was or cooler than I was would have prevented my Bible study from being a success.
People coming back into the faith need to see that you can love Jesus and be a normal person. Unfortunately, when a lot of people hear “Bible study,” they think of someone more along the lines of the “ERMAGERSH” girl than they do of a normal person. That girl isn’t relatable — but you are.
In regards to who the church needs to go out into the world, let me share this awesome quote (no one’s really sure who wrote it):
“We need saints without cassocks, without veils — we need saints with jeans and tennis shoes. We need saints that go to the movies that listen to music, that hang out with their friends (…) We need saints that drink Coca-Cola, that eat hot dogs, that surf the internet and that listen to their iPods. We need saints that love the Eucharist, that are not afraid or embarrassed to eat a pizza or drink a beer with their friends. We need saints who love the movies, dance, sports, theatre. We need saints that are open, sociable, normal, happy companions. We need saints who are in this world and who know how to enjoy the best in this world without being callous or mundane. We need saints.”
So go into Bible study not trying to hide who you are, not trying to be someone else. Go in as the person you presently are. Just being yourself is the biggest gift you could give your new study members.
When I started being myself in Bible study, it gave my students the freedom to start being themselves. They started to share and become vulnerable. We laughed and made inside jokes, and the craziest thing is we became friends.
God is calling each person who joins your study to be there. And He is calling you, just as you are, to lead them. Humbly give Him the chance to work through you as you currently are, and you will amazed at what happens this year.