I (Ashley Cook) was recently able to sit down with Lindsey Messina to chat about her experience doing the Youthstorm Internship over the last couple years. You can read through our conversation below.
What are you looking forward to now that year two is ending? Reflect on the last couple years for me.
– (First year) broke me and I realized none of the things I turned to mattered anymore. When you get to the point where you have nothing, you realize God is the answer to everything. Coming out of that and realizing I didn’t need all the things to be satisfied and okay was where wholeness came in. Losing myself, my identity, losing all the things I once held so close to me was worth it. Second year has been more focused on leadership opportunities and taking ownership over different areas of Kingdom building that we do, whether on a Sunday service or throughout the week. These last couple months have been giving us more tools to help manage our own teams and step into a different level of leadership because once the internship is done we don’t have that oversight and constant check-ins. It’s given us all the tools we need so that once the second year is done we have a toolkit to pull from…
What are your areas of oversight?
– One of my main areas of oversight is the cafe. I run the cafe on Sundays and then throughout the week if there are different events that we need it for. In general, we’re looking to create a more intentional hospitality team thats the umbrella over all areas of hospitality and that’s in the works… I’m also trying to kick off Sunday morning prayer to be more focused and give clearer vision for why we’re coming together on Sunday mornings. Those are just some of the things I’m overseeing.
You’re also overseeing Austin17 House, what has that process looked like and how has the internship helped you with that specific area?
– I’ve been at Austin House for five years. It was a God-given opportunity because I wasn’t equipped for any of it, I didn’t go to school and I was learning as I was going. God began bringing the right people in. My faith was really stirred over those years… When the internship started I had a full identity crisis and when you run a business, it often mimics you… The internship made me start thinking about where my foundation was and where I was operating out of. My foundation was rocky, I wasn’t confident in myself, I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life, etc… When we started learning about our faith I stated learning how much God plays a factor in everything and not just in the church, but also outside and in the surrounding communities… The second year has really reinforced the need for implementing this lifestyle and biblical curriculum in the organization.
How do you feel you have changed due to the internship and all you are doing with Austin17 House as a result of that?
– Before the internship, I really wasn’t connected. I had been in the community for over ten years and had very shallow relationships with people who were here and the internship forces you to be with people all the time. I ended up gaining a lot of friendships, which I didn’t expect… I’ve found a lot of genuine friendships which has helped me be more confident in myself. I am also very independent and life and circumstances made me very reliant on myself so it created a lot of pride and believing I could handle things on my own. It came down to not trusting God with my life and I needed to feel like I was in control. The internship literally taught me how to surrender and give up my life. It’s not mine, it doesn’t matter what I want, it doesn’t matter what my dreams and goals and desires are (not that God doesn’t want that for me), but just my own desire to accumulate things like success and status has really changed. It’s become very like “Okay God, use me.” And that’s how Austin House came about. I said yes one time and five years later I’m running it. As I’ve given things up, He has always come through.
What does your vision of success look like now?
– My goal in life is to bring people together to experience fullness and genuine joy and love in life. That comes from the spirit. We’re not meant to live life day to day checking boxes off and moving on. We’re supposed to enjoy life and I found so much enjoyment and fulfillment in meeting other people and experiencing pure joy. There is a difference between being happy and going through life and feeling satisfied and then there’s that joy that is so over and above and that comes from genuine relationships and love between each other. Success is doing life with people and bringing as many people as you can to do life with you!
If you could encourage anyone who’s thinking about the internship, what would you tell them?
– If you are sick of the way your life is and you want to change, do the internship. If you think you know everything about God, do the internship. If you’ve been a Christian forever… I grew up in the church my entire life and I still needed to do the internship. I don’t think there’s any person who shouldn’t do it. It strips you of everything you know, but it brings you so much confidence and security in so many other ways. It’s worth it.