By Julia Page Smith, Contributing Writer
Throughout the college experience, Spiritual and Life Assistants are the spiritual compasses that keep Asbury’s residential life directed to Christ. As new SLAs prepare for this role next semester, they enter the position with many high expectations from incoming and current students. They are probably inclined to ask what kind of servant’s heart it takes to fully embrace the role of an SLA.
Whether it is scheduling weekly Gathers, hall events or mentoring, being an Asbury SLA requires an incredible amount of motivation and strategic planning to get everyone on the hall involved. “The hardest part of being an SLA is planning Gathers and trying to include as many people as possible in them. Everyone’s schedule is super hectic, and classes ramp up from time to time. Really, the hardest part is logistics,” said SLA Josh Bowman.
Although SLAs may seem like they run around like organizational kings and queens of residential life, SLA Hannah Deaton of 2nd Crawford said that SLAs are just average college students who exhibit a genuine heart for others. “We all just need someone to listen to us, even if I don’t have all the answers. It’s okay. I just need to be there to turn it back to God and pray and to listen. I just think that’s the coolest thing,” Deaton said.
Serving as an SLA is a balancing act of socializing, studying and advising the individuals on their hall. What about when the pressures become too much? Where do SLAs find their peace? Will Turner is the SLA of Zoo Hall in Johnson. “Sometimes I will walk around outside at night when I’m walking back to my dorm. I’ll take a longer route. I’ll pray and maybe sing worship songs,” he said.
Where do SLAs go to for guidance when they struggle in their walk? “I will often go to my parents or I have a different person for each different question,” said Kiana Linn, the SLA of 2nd Front in Glide-Crawford. She found comfort and growth in her walk even along with members of her hall. “One experience I can think of really helped me to heal too. Just talking to the girls, there were two of them at the time, (it was about) becoming more real with each other about our concerns, our doubts, trusting in the Lord and realizing our need for him.” Linn proves that having mentors are essential, and being an SLA is about growing along with the hall.
The SLAs for the Fall 2016 semester are likely wondering what advice their predecessors have for them. Bowman provides this word of advice: “Just relax, and take the time to get to know everyone on your hall personally. Learn who they are and it won’t be a job. It’ll just come naturally. Also, take care of yourself, and don’t forget to let yourself be vulnerable.”
Deaton advises that being an SLA is a mentoring role that all Christians must invest in throughout their lives wherever they are in their walk. “I always want to make sure that I am being mentored and that I am mentoring someone,” she said. “I think that’s an important part of being a Christian, and I think It’s a really neat process to help grow yourself.” SLAs continue to exhibit both an invaluable friendship and a Christ-like mentorship that makes the college experience a bit easier. It’s also a lesson that one can have an SLA’s heart for serving others in whatever stage they are in life. At the end of the day, everyone can learn from these individuals who have an incredible servant’s heart and are the instrument of the kingdom.