If I had a dollar for every time I heard this, I would get more money than I do from actually being an MA.
An MA is a ministry assistant here on campus. Each MA is assigned to two or three mods to be available as a spiritual presence within the mods, or if anyone just wants someone to talk to. On top of that, each MA is a part of a ministry outreach on campus.
It’s time and effort that no one ever really hears about. And why would they? As an MA, most of the things I’ve encountered are held in strict confidence. People have talked with me about their faith and their lives. That is not information that I will ever share. But at the same time, that’s what makes it difficult to explain our roles to various people on campus.
Since it is so hard to pin point what an MA does, it’s easy for people to misunderstand what an MA actually is responsible for, which allows for a number of myths and incorrect assumptions to made of the MA position.
Myth #1: MAs don’t even do anything.
Not only is this completely false, it is totally offensive.
Of course, it’s possible that some people don’t take the job as seriously as others and do what they can to scrape by, but the majority of MAs do not fit into that category and don’t appreciate being placed there.
I’ve poured countless hours into the lives of various people in the dorms. I’ve dealt with situations that have left me mentally and emotionally exhausted, and no one has any idea because those are not my situations to share.
However, I can comment on the time and effort that has been placed into making campus worship successful. For the experience of 20 to 30 people every week, I have sacrificed hours of my Sunday afternoons. Prime studying time given up to make sure things go smoothly.
But I am by no means the only MA who is putting forth this effort. I work on a team of three for campus worship, and there are two MAs working with the Peace and Service Club, one leading a discussion group, and a number of others leading Bible studies every week.
I’m not doing this to brag about how much work I put in; I’m doing this so people realize that MAs actually do have responsibilities, and we follow through with them.
Myth #2: MAs are MAs because they didn’t get the RA position.
RAs, or resident assistants, have completely different responsibilities than an MA. I’m not going to pretend that I know all of their responsibilities, but they enforce rules, plan mod events, make sure the mod and bathrooms are clean, and deal with any roommate conflicts, among other things.
That is hard work, and I’m not trying to undermine that.
But don’t undermine my job by assuming I’m an MA because I didn’t get selected as an RA. I chose not to apply to be an RA because I knew that with my personality, I would enjoy being an MA more. I applied only for the MA position.
That’s fine if you applied for both, but don’t “settle” for the MA position simply because you didn’t get chosen as an RA. They are two completely different positions with different expectations and responsibilities.
We were not somebody’s second choice.
Myth #3: MAs can only talk about faith and are unable to see other perspectives.
This makes us sound like ignorant Bible Pushers, which is far from the truth.
Maybe faith isn’t something that you even care about. That’s fine. We are still your modmates, people that are here to be your friend. We are here to be a nonjudgmental, listening ear, willing to put homework on hold when you need to chat about anything, not just faith.
Sure we talk about faith. That’s part of our job. But another part of our job is connecting with people that might be different from us. We can still talk about things that are unrelated to faith.
We can also handle other people’s perspectives. You might have different views on various things. That’s natural. We are going to be respectful of that.
I love having conversations with people who don’t agree with me because through that I better understand why I believe what I do. Just because someone doesn’t agree with me doesn’t give me the right to completely disregard anything they say.
So let’s have a conversation about faith or the best movie on Netflix*. Pick either one. I just want to talk and get to know you.
*It’s Lilo & Stitch by the way.
Myth #4: MAs are self-righteous goody-two-shoes that expect people to be perfect.
Wow. This one sets MAs up for failure.
No MA is perfect, and none of us claim to be. We make mistakes, and we are still figuring life out. We aren’t going to judge you because you slept in last Sunday rather than going to church. We’ve all done it before. There are times we feel that we need sleep, and we would get more out of a personal devotional anyway.
Going to church every single Sunday is not an accurate reflection of someone’s faith. I know plenty of people who are solid in their faith, but have taken a Sunday or two off every once in a while because they just want to spend that time alone with God, or maybe they just needed sleep.
All of the above are completely acceptable reasons to sleep through church. Of course not every Sunday, but you get the gist.
Yes, we follow the community standards and encourage everyone else to, too. But if you come to us and admit that you have broken one of those standards, you will not get any judgment from us. We recognize that people are going to make mistakes, and so are we.
As MAs, we pride ourselves on being compassionate and understanding. We will listen to you about anything that’s bothering you because we care about you.
Myth #5: MAs get easily offended and won’t accept people unless they change.
I promise we aren’t that shallow.
If you swear, that is your own choice. It does not offend me at all; however, when you constantly apologize every time you swear in front of me, that’s borderline annoying. It makes me feel like I’m making you feel like you aren’t good enough. That just sounds horrible, and it leaves everyone involved uncomfortable.
Your swearing has no affect on my life. I choose not to swear, but I also choose to organize my T-shirts by color. Those are choices I make for my life, and I don’t expect anyone else to follow them.
Don’t ever feel like you need to change. It breaks my heart more when someone feels that they aren’t good enough than when someone swears. Everyone is human, and despite any choices you might make, good or bad, I will still show you the compassion that every single person deserves.
I know we aren’t all doing a perfect job as MAs, but is anybody ever really perfect? We are here for your faith, or we could just be here for the mental stability that every college student needs during midterms. It’s for you to decide how you use us.
So in response to the statement that “MAs don’t even do anything”: MAs do a lot more than you may ever know. And that’s just fine because I wouldn’t change my decision. If I could do it all over again, I would still apply to be a ministry assistant.