We asked our students what makes for a great spiritual advisor for their chapters, and here’s what they had to say:
Campus ministry is a priority for you.
Perhaps surprisingly, the number one theme among responses was simply being available, dependable, and enthusiastic about OCF. Students want a spiritual advisor who is a constant presence, who is available for counsel, who is consistent in their participation, and who shows up with enthusiasm and passion.
You know what you’re talking about and how to talk about it.
OCFers are seekers. They want to learn, and their desire for knowledge runs the gamut. They want a spiritual advisor who knows the Bible, the Church Fathers, and current events. They want you to see no topic as off-limits, encourage questions, and be bold in giving answers. They want to be in the presence of wisdom and intelligence–but they also want you to be intentional about your pedagogy. They long for discussion that is engaging and focused, and they know that a spiritual advisor who is a good listener and loves to teach will be able to offer them one.
You’re approachable and welcoming.
Unsurprisingly, college students want to connect with their spiritual advisor. They want to be treated respectfully and without judgement. They want to hang out with you, text you, and hear your story. They expect you to relate to their experience and be knowledgeable about college culture and demographics. They’re hoping you’ll find a place for them in your parish. And they want to bring their friends to OCF and know that new people will be welcomed with open arms.
You genuinely care about the students.
To be a great spiritual advisor, campus ministry can’t simply be another to-do on your checklist or approached like a class you must teach without getting to know the students. Students want to experience your love for them. They want a spiritual advisor who exudes kindness, compassion, understanding, gentleness, humility, and patience. One student used the word “nurturing” to describe this quality–they want you to know them and help them grow as if they are your own children.
Your leadership style is collaborative and communicative.
While a few students expected spiritual advisors to be creative event planners, most simply expected servant leadership that allowed for the students to be co-laborers in the ministry of OCF. They want to have input in the direction of their chapter, and they love spiritual advisors who are willing to serve in whatever manner is needed. And to make that happen, they’re hoping you’ll communicate with them regularly and consistently, listening to their ideas and guiding them to strengthen the whole OCF chapter.
Your own spiritual life is authentic.
Finally, college students want a spiritual advisor who is himself working out his own salvation. They want to be in the presence of someone who is prayerful, faithful, honest, discerning, and spiritually wise. They want to have evidence that you practice what you preach and are striving to live an authentic Christian life.
We are so grateful to the many clergy who serve as spiritual advisors on campuses across the United States and Canada, and we hope that having a student perspective on your work will be a reinvigorating reminder that college students are yearning for meaningful, spiritual relationships and that you can offer them precisely that.