Posted by: Brian Musser | November 6, 2017

Guess My Age

My presence on campus may not be exactly what you imagine.  Often the stereotype of a campus minister is just a slightly older youth group leader.  Arliss Dickerson (the grandmaster guru yoda of campus ministry) talks about the different seasons in a campus minister’s life starting with buddy or peer, moving to older brother, then father figure and ending with grandparent.

However; I never really fit into those categories.  First of all, I started campus ministry when I was 28 so I missed the peer season all together.  Secondly, even early on I spent a lot of ministry time with faculty, staff and administration so I would be professionally dressed instead of dressed like I was going to just hang out with students.  Third, because I was filling a professional role on campus sometimes students would view me as more of an administrator than a minister.  I remember one girl once say that she never expected to be my friend when she first met me just because of the first impression my role gave.  Fourth, I am “prematurely” grey so my age is really hard to judge.  Fifth, much of my ministry has been across ethnic lines so that just adds another layer of complexity to the cross-generational relationships.  And finally, I purposefully treat my college students as adults.  Drexel makes you grow up fast and my students tend to engage life as grown folk and not kids.

So students often have trouble trying to place me in a category.  This one time a couple of my student leaders were challenging one of our members to guess my age.  At first, she refused, but then she gave into the peer pressure.  She guessed my age at 45.  The two leaders who knew how old I actually was laughed out loud.  She got embarrassed imagining that she was very wrong.  So, one of the leaders corrected her saying I was 53.  She accepted that as right without hesitation.  But then I admitted to her that I was only 32 at that time.  To which she responded, “It’s really hard to guess ages across ethnic lines.”

I’m not sure I always relate to college students, but that doesn’t mean I can’t minister to them.


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