Here’s what I’ve learned from the Church Health Scholars.
Someone once gave me this business advice: “Always over-invest in the young.” This has proven to be one of the most important things anyone ever told me.
At Church Health, we have taken that concept in many directions. Of the various programs we run, one of my favorites is a gap year experience for recent college graduates. We’re investing in building future leaders through service-learning experiences that help them shape professional and personal values and a work ethic that will influence the mark their lives leave in the communities they serve in the future. Most of these young people want to go to medical school, but we have places for a variety of other future professionals. We call our gap year students Church Health Scholars.
The Scholars are on a learning path during the year, and we try to teach them lessons we have learned in life. I love having their energy, excitement and curiosity around our work space every day. But every year, as I hear their stories, I realize that learning is reciprocal. I’m keenly aware of what they still teach me every day. They teach me life lessons, and I would like to pass on some of them.
1. Opt for optimism. The Scholars are untainted with cynicism. They believe they will achieve the goals they have set for themselves if they work hard enough.
2. Soak up knowledge. The Scholars are sponges and want to learn about almost anything but especially those things that will make them better in life.
3. Support each other. Pursuing goals is better together.
4. Look for love. Life is better with love.
5. Share freely. The Scholars don’t need a lot of things or a big house. They are OK with sharing with others.
6. Think beyond yourself. The Scholars want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
7. Welcome mentors. Be open to what others farther down the path can teach you.
8. Pursue meaning. The Scholars want to make a difference in the world with their lives.
I realize that with the trials of life experience some of these seem a little naive, but I would prefer to use the word wide-eyed, and I think that is a good thing. The Scholars come with their eyes open wide in amazement at what is possible. The hard knocks of life occur, and some Scholars who have spent a year with us have already known some pretty hard knocks. But that is no reason to step away from these desires.
A new group of Scholars started July 1. I haven’t learned all their names or stories yet, but I’m eager for the opportunity. I’m also eager to find out what life lessons they’ll teach me to add to my list. If you are not around people in their early 20s on a regular basis, I encourage you to find a way to engage someone in this age group. It will change both of your lives.