Words: Peter Biles ’19
Photos: Tony Hughes
While intentional community can sound like a nice but unattainable ideal in America’s highly individualistic and media-saturated society, Dr. Justin Heth M.A. ’07, Dean of Residence Life, knows what is necessary for its success: radical vulnerability and a confessional lifestyle.
“Living honestly in relationships practically reminds each of us of our need for a Savior and it protects us by shedding light into the secret places of our lives,” Justin said. “In confession, the real breakthrough to community takes place as people choose to set aside their image management and begin to live authentically.” Justin makes a point to embody a confessional approach in his own relationships, modeling what he hopes more students on campus will come to imitate. He believes living confessionally is a pathway to experiencing profound freedom in Christ.
Justin acknowledged that in our ever-changing context, social media platforms can train young minds to care more about image than authenticity. Combined with perceived religious pressure to “be good enough,” vulnerable connections come as a challenge to many. Nonetheless, Justin has seen the faithfulness of God and the power of honesty play out time and again in his work at Wheaton College.
“I have the privilege of entering into these sacred spaces and getting a front-row seat to see how confession can bring freedom, and students once again experience the beautiful reminder that we all need a Savior,” he remarked. “My hope is that students will find places of deep connection within our diverse, Christ-centered community, and that when they walk across that graduation stage they live and love more like Jesus did, because they chose to engage with others in our intentional residential community.”