Ok, so I don’t hate interns, I hate the word intern. I hate it when I use it, and I hate it when others us it. Sure, hate is a strong word, but it’s the right word. Here’s why I feel the way I do:
I’m a fan of a level playing field, where no one has an unfair advantage or disadvantage.
I’m also a fan of circles, where no one is on the outside or on the inside…
“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave…” (Mt 20:26–27)
Jesus was pretty clear when he defined status in his kingdom. Therefore, I’m opposed to giving someone a title that obviously puts them at the bottom of the food chain. In our ministry, we’ve made it a goal not to use it as …
… As a title … introduce them as “staff” or “summer staff” if you need to.
… As a modifier for a task … “that’s a good intern task”
We work to avoid it. I get that there are probably some situations when it could make sense, but if a distinction really has to be made (to like a questioning parent or something) I’d lead with “volunteer” rather than intern…
Ministry opportunity and responsibility ought to be level playing field. Everyone gets more responsibility based on their ability, diligence, and initiative. Stepping up, following through, and doing a good job is what results in greater leadership responsibility. Position and titles don’t generate leadership…
In my first year of ministry, Rick Warren walked into the high school area of the offices. I happened to be the only on there. He knew I was an intern, but he didn’t treat me like one. He handed me some contact information of a student and he asked me to call the family. Rick said, “Give them a call today, just say, “My name is Matt, and I’m one of the pastors at Saddleback. Rick asked me to give you a call.”
I couldn’t believe it. Rick Warren called me a pastor, and I wasn’t even through my first year of ministry.
“Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.” (Luke 19:17)
Let’s agree that this is a small thing where we can show some more diligence. If you were ever an intern, did you like being called one?
Anyhow, I haven’t heard a lot of this, but I’ve heard enough that I need to say something to everyone. This is a core value I hold for our ministry, and I have done a poor job communicating it.