Discerning One's Future
What do you want to do when you grow up?
Right up until my college graduation in 2013, I cringed at this most common of questions. Like many Christian young people, I wanted to love God and love others in the “real world” – but what would that look likeexactly?
The Beecherl-Corrigan Fellows Program at Dallas’ Church of the Incarnation aims to answer just that. The Fellows Program, one of 20 programs nationwide affiliated with The Fellows Initiative (TFI), is “a Christian leadership development program for recent college graduates who seek to build Christ’s kingdom in their future vocations.”
After college, one thing led to another, and I found myself joining the Beecherl-Corrigan Fellows Program and engaging in a variety of program elements.
On August 24, 2014, the 6 Fellows who make up the 2014-2015 Fellows class descended on a duplex a few miles from Church of the Incarnation, where we would live together for the next 9 months. We had never met one another. We each came from different parts of the DFW metroplex and different parts of the country. We each have different denominational backgrounds ranging from Episcopalian to nondenominational, Lutheran to Baptist. And we each have verydifferent personalities (confirmed by the multiple personality and career assessments we’ve taken as part of the program).
But, by December, we were sending out Christmas cards signed “from the Fellows family.” We’ve learned to create a household, cook casseroles, and clean the bathroom. Moreover, we’re learning to share our lives with one another and, in the sharing, to “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).
Service to Church and Community
On Sundays, Fellows can be found serving as discussion leaders in Sunday School classes and chalice bearers, ushers, greeters, or lectors in worship services. Each Fellow serves as an intern with one particular ministry department – Youth, Young Adults, Missions & Outreach, or Communications. As a result, Fellows have been challenged with learning how to help newcomers feel welcome at church, how to communicate the gospel to teenagers, or how to build trust with homeless students at North Dallas High School.
Between Sundays, we work part-time at paid work placements in industries relevant to our own skills and interests. For the 2014-2015 Fellows class, that includes non-profits, dentistry, marketing, hotel management, and a health food store. In these environments, we learn to minister to colleagues and clients through caring, listening, ethical decision-making, and attempting to address even mundane details with an attitude of worship.
In the fall and spring, Fellows take one graduate-level seminary class in topics that will prove useful no matter our future pursuits. Courses like “The Spiritual Life” (our Fall 2014 course) and “Theology and Culture” (Spring 2015) help us to engage with the challenges of community, church, and work in an intelligent, informed manner.
Each Fellow is assigned a mentor to meet with periodically over lunch or breakfast. The mentors help prevent us from surviving on pizza and pop-tarts (just kidding, maybe). They’re lay leaders in the church showing ushow to be lay leaders in the church. They’re friends, networkers, and our own personal cheerleaders as we navigate the now and the next-steps of life.
Most importantly? I’m realizing that, without prayer, all of the above would be exhausting, confusing, and even “vanity and a striving after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14). As a group, Fellows practice starting and ending our days in prayer, each of us attending Morning Prayer and Holy Communion at Incarnation as often as we can. Day after day, I pray “Lord, have mercy,” confess that I have sinned against God and neighbor, receive “the gifts of God for the people of God,” and say “thanks be to God” – and I know more and more that these exchanges of confession and forgiveness, pleading and praising, are what life is all about.
Ask me now, in the middle of the Fellows Program, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” and I’ll not only give you a clearer answer but have more peace of mind about it. After this year, some Fellows will be off to graduate school, some working full-time, and all of us better equipped to move forward faithfully into the world.
I’d also like to ask you, now that you’ve heard about the Fellows Program: “Now what will you do?” If someone you know may be interested in the Fellows Program, tell them about it! If you could hire a Fellow at your workplace in the future, let us know. No matter what, you can help the young Christians in your life grow in the areas of community, service, work, study, mentorship, and prayer.
For more information visit www.thedallasfellows.org or e-mail Caroline Waller, Program Director, at