Bookended by winter storms, the Fourth Fellows winter retreat was a mix of delayed flights, valiant car rescues, many games of Clue and the card game Capitalism (otherwise known as Anarchy), snowball fights and snowman construction, and calling Jesse Ritterpusch and Judah Hoobler “Yesse” and “Yudah,” respectively. Unfortunately for Ellie Roper, there was no polar plunge in the Chesapeake as priority was given to warmth, good conversation, and discernment over hypothermia.
While the retreat was a success in bringing us wayward Fellows back together again to start the second semester, the primary purpose of the retreat was to begin the conversation about what comes after Fellows.
One goal of Fourth Fellows is to gain the skills and wisdom to “start well” the rest of our professional and spiritual lives. This retreat, guided by McLean Presbyterian pastor and Reformed Theological Seminary professor Bill Fullilove, revealed through skills and aptitude tests how our naturally-gifted strengths and weaknesses can contribute to our vocational calling, helping us succeed and serve others well. The result of these in-depth discussions with our group did not result in any clear-cut career path, but rather, it equipped us with the knowledge of what thriving looks like, which will guide our decisions in a post-fellows age.
I, Anna Kate, scribe of this blog post, was not surprised by the results of my testing, but it affirmed things I already sensed about myself and put it into words. For example, I studied economics and political science at Hope College and did research all four years of college with professors, but I never truly liked this work. I thought I must just have a lazy streak. However, my results from the Highlands Ability Battery test show that I am just not naturally gifted in that type of work. I am geared towards more general, jack-of-all-trades work versus deep-dive research in a specific area. Aha! Not lazy!
God grants us varying skills and abilities that contribute to the work of His Kingdom—no person is the same, and there is no unnecessary gift. It was clear as we compared results; some of us Fellows had a lot in common, but there was also diversity in skills and abilities, contributing to the nuance and different passions in our group. Many of us Fellows had an “Aha!” moment in our discussions or meetings, and this time of reflection prepared us to pivot towards planning for the future.
This retreat helped us begin thinking about the calling to which we have been called. Some of us are heading to medical school, others (me, particularly) faint at the sight of blood. Some of us are puzzlers, others are Clue masters. Some like to cook, and some like to clean. Most of us hated the paper-folding test on the Highlands Ability Battery, others (me, particularly) loved it and are thinking about a potential origami hobby. These natural gifts and tendencies will help us to serve the Kingdom well and start well, and I am looking forward to how God continues to shape our stories to serve our communities and love each other as Christ first loved us.
“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” (Theologian Frederick Buechner)
“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1)