The Fellows Initiative
Go! Get After It!
by Lainey Nix
At the end of April, nearly 300 fellows, directors, and other staff from TFI Fellows programs across the country gathered in the Washington DC area for 15th National Fellows Conference. We heard from a group of outstanding speakers, enjoyed meals together, and connected with other fellows about our chosen line of work at industry roundtables. Outside of the conference events, the fellows enjoyed meeting each other, seeing old friends, and exploring the city together. As a fellow in the Capital Fellows program, which is based in the suburbs of DC, the National Conference was such a fun time for me and my class to welcome other fellows to the area that many of us will now call “home”!
Speakers for the National Conference - Rev. Dr. Paul Jeon of NewCity Church in the DC area, Dr. Hannah Stolze of Lipscomb and Wheaton Universities, and Rev. Ryan Laughlin of McLean Presbyterian Church in McLean, Virginia - spoke on the theme, Go! Get After It…in culture, at work, and in the Church. Rev. Dr. Jeon outlined that interacting with culture as a Christian means rejecting the increasingly popular idea that we must be extraordinary. Instead he suggested that we pursue the ordinary with excellence. Dr. Stolze spoke with us about using Divine, Biblical wisdom in our work. She reminded us that, in our work, we should remember the NT Wright quote, “God did not save us from the world, but for the world.” Finally, Rev. Laughlin encouraged us that we should pursue serving the Church for the rest of our lives, knowing (and not turning a blind eye to) its flaws. He reminded us that is the Bride of Christ and that God loves the Church too much for us to give up on it.
Looking around the conference room filled with fellows, I was reminded of just how big the mission, and the impact, of The Fellows Initiative really is. My experience as a fellow is but a microcosm of the much greater influence that TFI has on a national, even global level. I am but one (striving) disciple who will go out into my workplace, my church, and the world, with the tools to work toward seamlessly integrating my faith, life, and work. We come to Fellows programs as recent college graduates with questions and hopes. Now that we are finishing our Fellows programs, perhaps there is a greater hope: that the young leaders who have participated in these programs, who have learned what it means to be a fellow, would go out and make even just a few more fellows in their lives. Hearing the speakers encourage us to go and get after it in every realm of life, knowing that God has greater Kingdom purposes for what we do, brought me to the realization of what this program has really taught me: I know now how to be a leader in the room, but not the kind of leader that is isolated in my own power. I know now how to be the kind of servant-leader, the kind of Christian, who is in the game to guide others into leadership, too.
Leaving my time as a fellow, I genuinely want my friends old and new, my coworkers, and anyone who will listen, to know that God wants to break into every area of our lives and change - for the better - the way we live this side of heaven. I want to talk about what I have learned from my time as fellow and, in the process, help people along in their own journey of becoming the leader God made them to be. At the close of the conference, Seth Richardson, Director of the Briarwood Fellows program, commissioned the Fellows class of 2022 to go out into the world, bearing the tools and lessons we acquired over the course of the Fellows year, desiring to make an impact through our lives and our work. My prayer is that every fellow in the class of 2022 would heed this call of continuing to be a fellow, seeking to make more fellows throughout our lives, even after our programs end.
Editor’s Note: Lainey has worked diligently this year as the Communications Associate for The Fellows Initiative. We are very grateful for her and her work with us! We look forward to all that God will do in and through her as she begins a career in health policy consulting.
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