New JSU campus minister sees God’s redemptive work through seasons of ministry

Shannon Hughes poses in front of collegiate building

More than a decade ago, Shannon Hughes struggled with something that she said has made her more prepared for campus ministry today — she thought she was failing at it.

“A lot of circumstances made it a challenging situation for me personally,” said Hughes, who at the time was serving with Auburn University’s Baptist Campus Ministries. “Also, I was probably making it tougher, because I needed to seek out some help, and also I was not relying on the Lord like I needed to.”

She was doing ministry in her own power. She struggled with anxiety and fear. She believed the lie that she was failing. And after a while, she burned out, she said.

“I lost sight of my calling, and the only thing I really knew to do at that point was walk away,” Hughes said.

New role

But now, as she starts in a new role as lead campus minister for Jacksonville State University, she said she believes her struggle with anxiety during that season has put her in an even better position to relate to a generation weighed down by mental health battles.

“What I didn’t know at the time but I’m seeing now is that I’m a better minister because I can sit with a student and say, ‘I’ve been where you are, and I’m here to help,’” Hughes said.

When she first walked away from campus ministry, she spent five years working in university administration at Auburn.

“During that time, I got refocused, and the Lord really redeemed that season and reminded me who I was and whose I was,” Hughes said. “He did that through opportunities including bivocational and volunteer church collegiate ministry. He renewed my calling and reminded me that He wasn’t finished with me and He still had a purpose for me in ministry.”

Continue reading here.

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