Hidden in the southeast corner of Ramaker, students can find Mark DeYounge, the campus chaplain.
When DeYounge wakes up, he bases his clothing on what kind of day it will be.
“Is this a student day? If it is, I dress quite differently than if I was meeting with a potential donor, leading an event with a local pastor or if I am speaking in chapel,” he said.
Every morning, DeYounge makes the 10-mile commute from his home in Sioux Center to campus. Some mornings start as early as 6:30 a.m. with meetings to discuss the beginnings of a Young Life program in Sioux County with a friend.
Early mornings and late nights are common, especially if it’s a particularly busy time of year.
“Life looks really different depending on the season,” he said. “August through October are very busy with the start of the year, student investment, launching new programs, launching the new year and training student leaders.”
He divides his roles as dean of Christian formation into three buckets: leadership, pastoral and programming, spending time in each bucket daily.
A typical morning starts with grabbing breakfast with a group of guys who are leading small groups, followed by a meeting with a student to discuss how to walk with Christ through a time of grief and another to discuss relationships.
After a few morning meetings, DeYounge might meet with the president’s cabinet to discuss executive items or to have a time of prayer, facilitate a NED Talk or prepare for an upcoming chapel. DeYounge is currently planning for speakers to come in February, along with organizing a mini conference in February with a graduate studies program over better including, embracing and empowering people with intellectual diversity.
“You have to plan way ahead to get people to show up,” DeYounge said.
“It’s a delight and a joy to get to work with people on the president’s cabinet level and constantly be blessed by great leaders, and then to see on a programmatic level things like chapel, NED Talks, Ngage, SOS, SSPs,” he said. “On a more organic level, I get to be involved with individual relationships with students through one-on-one meetings with men and women across campus.”
Once the day at Northwestern is completed, DeYounge heads back to Sioux Center. He comes home to his family: his wife Liza and three kids, Will, Charlie and Wes, investing the most time with his family as he can.
It’s obvious DeYounge has a lot on his plate, balancing his different roles on campus, along with being a husband and father, but he knows how to keep his head on straight and take time for himself.
“My own solitude and my own quiet time is really important to me,” he said. “My own time in the word is really important to me. My own private life is really important to me. Those things keep me grounded. In my free time, I really like to be outside – golfing and fishing in the summer, bow hunting for deer or walking through grass for pheasants in the fall, snowboarding in the winter.”
At the end of the day, DeYounge knows his ability to love and do his best through all aspects of his career are limited, but he knows that God is present on campus.
“It’s probably one of the more inspiring jobs that I have ever had the privilege of doing,” he said. “Solely because of two things – the people I work with and to just see the heart, talent, and high ceiling of students. To see them graduate from this place makes me sad, but to watch them make an incredible difference in the world for the glory of Christ is a pretty inspiring thing.”