Happy New Year! Even as many people are making (and breaking) resolutions, or perhaps crawling into a hole to hibernate from the dreariness of mid-winter, at Life Together we are already looking ahead to a different kind of new year’s day: August 14, when the 2019-2020 Life Together fellows will arrive for their first day of Orientation. Even as I write, the familiar sounds of an applicant interview float across the foyer from the training room at 40 Prescott. Meanwhile, I’m working on the agenda for a meeting of our host site selection team. Applications for our second-year Emmaus fellowships open next week. Long before we ever meet next year’s new fellows, we are dreaming about what the year might hold and laying the groundwork for it.
Recruiting a strong cohort of fellows for the coming year is central to all our efforts. But what does a strong Life Together candidate look like? In the fall, our recruitment team of staff, fellows, and alumni meets to discern needs for the coming year. In recent years, we have talked about the need for a candidate to be committed to the work of racial justice, including challenging internalized oppression or confronting white privilege. We have sought people who understand that authentic community life is challenging, and who embrace that challenge as an opportunity for growth. We hope for people who are drawn to the spiritual life, even when they don’t fully understand where that pull might come from. And we’re looking for people with a fire for prophetic leadership in their churches and communities.
And yet all this is not quite enough. The candidates who turn out to be the strongest Life Together fellows are not always the candidates who look best on paper, or even the ones who interview well. They’re the candidates who have a deep desire to grow. I remember one person who first applied after we had already filled the cohort that year. Though we had to turn them down, they continued to check in regularly about possible openings until, suddenly in July, one came up unexpectedly. The candidate jumped at the chance to join us, even going so far as to make a multi-state move with no more than a week’s turnaround. They continued on to serve two years with Life Together. As God told the prophet Samuel, “for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” We’re looking for those with a heart to work toward God’s dream for the world.
Many of the people who combine the leadership capacity we seek with a deep desire for growth come to us from the recommendations of others in the Life Together community. So take a look around at the people in your community. Do you know someone with a heart for justice work, a yearning toward the spiritual path, and a longing for personal growth? Send them our way and help us continue to expand our circle of prayerful and prophetic leaders for a new generation.