Vianay Valadez sits down with spiritual life coach Mark Howard to get a better idea of how he serves the student population at La Sierra University. 

VV: What role do you play as a Spiritual Life Coach?

MH: I would say that an important part of being a Spiritual Life Coach is being responsible in a way for the spiritual growth of the students. I take part in giving bible studies, baptismal classes, and I am also responsible for some programming. Some of the programs that I am involved in are those such as chapel for the Criminal Justice campus and First Service. 

VV: How do you encourage students to talk to you or how would you say that you help students get comfortable in taking the first step towards a spiritual connection with God?

MH: I try to be honest and let students know that I’m not perfect and that I don’t know everything. If I might not have had the same spiritual or biblical questions that [the students] have, I try to find something that we both can relate to or something that we have in common. Overall, I hope that we can get comfortable enough in order to be able to continue in the process of allowing mine and the student’s knowledge to increase as we study and engage in a relationship with God together.

VV: What does a meeting with you typically look like?

MH: It would depend on what the student and I are talking about. During our first meeting, if it were bible studies for example, I would probably try to schedule a short amount of time to talk personally. In this case, it is important that the student and I get to know each other as individuals. I would then go over what their interests are and what they would like to study in the bible. If a student just wants to talk, then of course, I am open to anything that they want to talk about.

VV: What is the end goal that you have for students as a Spiritual Life Coach?

MH: I would first want to know why they came and find out what their goals are. My goal is to make sure that the student grows spiritually and closer to God. I hope that they find that things that are spiritual are not boring and that they become committed to God as they embark on a personal relationship with Him.

VV: How do you recommend we, as college students, stay connected to God with a hectic schedule?

MH: I think being intentional is the best way to stay connected. Whether it’s at the start of your day or at the end, you need to allow yourself to give time to God. You can take up to five minutes or an hour—we all come from different places and we have to make time to maintain our outside relationships. In being intentional with our relationship with God, we will grow closer to Him and our time with Him will be more valuable.