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Life as the Dean of Men

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by Mark Nigro, Calvary Chapel Bible College’s Dean of Men

Serving as the Dean of Men to roughly 200 male, college-aged students on the campus of the Calvary Chapel Bible College and Murrieta Hot Springs Conference Center, brings unique challenges but also yields exceptional rewards each semester. While the position is an academic one, my function mostly is relational and very much pastoral in nature. I deal with individuals daily and for a host of different reasons. Sometimes I call students in because there is a problem I need to address, such as damaged property, curfew violations, parking tickets, failed dorm inspections, doctrinal disputes, harassment, theft, struggles with sin, unresolved personal conflicts, or some other breech in our code of conduct.

But the vast majority of my meetings with students are centered on their own initiative. They come to me for accountability to quit smoking or other habits and addictions, for prayer and counsel regarding family problems at home, or weaknesses in their academic studies. They especially love to bring up a current or potential relationship with a special young lady on campus for which they seek some direction from an older man who has “been there, done that.” A less common reason to visit my office might be a problem in the dorm room with a roommate or the dorm leader. It can be for any reason, really.

More often than not, students simply want to be mentored towards maturity as men in general and to have a greater stability with their faith in particular. And this brings me tremendous joy! However, as in the days of Jesus, so it is now; there is the multitude that desires to follow Christ, and does so, but from somewhat of a distance. Then there is the minority that actively presses in beyond the crowd to go deeper with God. They take the initiative to be invested in by our leadership at CCBC. These are the students whom invariably we get to know best and forge deep, lasting relationships with.

Realistically, I probably become acquainted with about 60 percent of the men on campus in a given semester but can only get truly close to about 15 to 20 percent with a one-to-one mentorship. But true discipleship is, by design, to a selective minority. As we see with Jesus’ ministry, we avail ourselves to all but focus on a few. Ongoing discipleship must be personal and that requires time, patience and a selective direction.

On the educational side of things, I teach two to three classes per semester but always place a strong emphasis on also training the interns in my department, which is not precisely a class but in some respects follows the characteristics of one with a curriculum and weekly group sessions. My interns are graduates of Calvary Chapel Bible College that proved themselves faithful during their previous academic semesters (2 Tim 2:2). Additionally, they will be those that have demonstrated pastoral qualities, which both draw them to the internship and make them a good fit for the department. Their one-year commitment exposes them to a rounded experience of administrative activity, organizational and leadership skills, mentoring and counseling others, teaching, and coordinating purity groups among other things.

My last two semesters have introduced an interesting element to my ministry whereby the staff jokingly says I have a women’s ministry on campus. Young ladies often come to me for counsel and direction for various reasons but primarily in areas of relational challenges, be it with a young man on campus, or a female roommate that is hard to love. I am perceived as a father to them and, in many respects, I find myself often functioning in that way. While my goal is to look out for all the students, I feel a special responsibility to make sure that our young ladies are safe and learn that their identity and affirmation are found in Christ (1 Peter 3:4), not in premature relationships with young men that may not be ready to care for one of God’s daughters.

Helping form the present and future years of precious, young men and women is a great privilege and responsibility that we all take to heart. So no matter what administrative, disciplinary, or academic tasks my department may have, the aim is always to be centered on discipleship. That is, after all, the great commission (Matt 28:18-20). And ministry here at Calvary Chapel Bible College and Murrieta Hot Springs Conference Center always abounds with opportunity to be fruitful for God’s kingdom.

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