Trusting God…and speaking to trustees

There are times where I meet students and I naturally gravitate to them.  Ryan was certainly one of them.

Ryan transferred to Northwestern when he was a sophomore and we met early on.  He’s of good Wisconsin stock, so we hit it off right away.  But as we talked, I saw a tremendously gifted young man who was going 10,000 directions all at once.  We sat down one day, and put all of the things he wanted to do on post-it notes on a table at the student union.  We filled the entire table.

Ryan and I walked around by the lake at Northwestern in the spring that sophomore year, and he was desperate.  He wanted to integrate his passion for reaching the lost with his passion for restoring a broken world.  He was going to Uganda to serve among the poor in the summer, and was considering going to our annual summer mission program to China through InterVarsity’s Global Projects.  I asked him, “Why don’t you go to China, Ryan? God can do more than you can ask or imagine, and maybe there is something that God wants to do with you through both projects?”  Sure enough, God transformed Ryan that summer and integrated his care for the marginalized and the reaching the lost.

Next year, around the same time, Ryan and I were walking around the lake again when he was considering the prestigious position of Global Engagement Summit Director as well as serving on InterVarsity’s executive leadership team.  He was weighing the options, and I let him know my bias on how I would love to work with him and see him flourish under my direction.  But I gave that up, and said I wanted to do what was best for him, even if that was not serving on our leadership team.  Ryan decided to do both, and the dividends have paid off tremendously.

Ryan recently spoke in front of the Board of Trustees detailing how Northwestern University could become the leading university in global engagement programs.  He brought the president’s wife to tears sharing the vision for what Northwestern could do for the world.  Ryan has grown so much from the scattered sophomore into a mature leader he is today, and every time I walk around the lake with a student I’m reminded of the holy ground it can be.

Ryan (center) and other friends at Greek Conference

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March 2008

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