Grow Great Leaders

Sarah Ball Advisors & Student Leaders, BASIC Crew, Leadership, Personal Development, Resources 0 Comments

Leaders, what is your goal?

I love the topic of leadership. I listen to countless podcasts, read leadership books, and research leadership blogs consistently because I never want to stop growing as a leader.

One of my favorite leadership podcasts is by Craig Groeschel, the senior pastor of Life.Church. He did a series called, “The Six Types of Leaders,” outlining leadership tendencies, what kind of followers these types of leaders produce, and how to grow.

You can find part II here.

The fifth type of leader was “The Healthy Leader.” The Healthy Leader does leadership right, and produces faithful followers. However, the last type of leader is “The Empowering Leader.”  The Empowering Leader takes healthy leadership a step further and does not produce merely faithful followers, but the empowering leader produces other great leaders.

This is our ultimate goal with leadership, to produce other great leaders. Not to increase our numbers in our ministry groups or church, or even to get the word out about your ministry and become nationally and internationally well-known, but to impart and empower those we were entrusted to lead to become great leaders – even better than what we currently are.

How do we make the transition into empowering leaders?

There are four specific areas that we can focus on in order to grow into becoming empowering leaders.


Mentorship is vital in leadership. Not only should you be seeking out leaders that are ahead of you in life and ministry in order to be poured into, you should actively be seeking out those around you to mentor and invest in.

There is so much value in mentorship for spiritual reasons like encouragement, accountability, and prayer. But there are also more practical reasons for mentoring as well: feedback. When we have someone in our lives, whom we trust, we are able to ask the tough questions and receive the tough answers about who we are as a leader, how our organization is being run, and maybe even the mistakes we are making in ministry.

We tend to think that investing into others needs to be all encouragement with no constructive criticism, but we can still give (and receive) correction lovingly to help those around us (as well as ourselves) improve.

Jesus is a great example of this with Peter. How many times do we see Jesus lovingly correct Peter in his mindsets and ministry? A lot.

Jesus could have seen Peter’s mistakes and prayed for or encouraged him throughout them, but He didn’t! He corrected Peter because He knew that Peter was going to be that rock where His church was going to be built upon. Peter had to grow as a leader to get there, and encouragement and prayer was not solely going to do it. 


Leaders who are open and honest about leadership mistakes they have made have a sense of vulnerability with those around them. This produces trust and transparency between you and those you lead. This also produces a healthy mindset in leadership that it is okay to fail, and failure is a part of the process.

Failure is inevitable, and dare I say vital. When we discover what fails in our leadership, we are closer to discovering what works. When we fail, we learn, we adjust, and then we try again. We should not hide our failures from our team, but be vulnerable with them.


Leaders who produce other great leaders lead by example. We commonly hear the term, “practice what you preach.” When we lead others by example, we produce authenticity within our organization, church, or ministry.

Words mean nothing nowadays. We see pastors, politicians, and great leaders preaching for what they stand for, and what is “right,” but then receive word in the media that they were caught in an affair, with a drinking problem, or some other controversial scandal.

I’m not saying that people and leaders don’t make mistakes, but I am saying that people look at you as an example, and what they see you do: how you respond to that upset church member, the way you talk about other members of your team with frustration, the way you treat your spouse, and follow that example.

When we lead with integrity and through example, we are producing great leaders who will do the same.


Healthy leaders listen to their team, but empowering leaders take listening a step further and begin delegating those ideas and collaborations to their team members. Often in leadership, we think that because we are the leader, we are the ones that have to do it all. This mindset is totally opposite of what empowering leaders do.

Delegating tasks to those on your team produces a confidence in them, as well as a trust that makes a statement. It also begins to foster that leadership gifting in them, fulfilling our goal to produce great leaders. I’ve heard it said that if you think someone on your team can do a task or project at least 60% as well as you can, delegate it to them. It may not be perfect, but the goal is not perfection, it is growth.

You can have control, or you can have growth, but you can’t have both. 

In order to develop great leaders, we have to make mentorship a priority, be vulnerable with our team, lead by example, and delegate to empower those on our teams. I can sum it up this way: If you want to develop great leaders, take the focus off of yourself and place it on those you desire to impart to.

This is our goal.

Jesus is our example.

About the Author

Sarah Ball

Sarah Ball graduated from Elim Bible Institute and College with a degree in Theological and Biblical Studies with a focus in ministry. It was at Elim where Sarah knew she had a passion for ministry and college students through the exposure of BASIC. In June of 2017 Sarah joined on staff with BASIC along with her husband, Elijah.

A Devotional on Glory

Sam DiStefano Advisors & Student Leaders, Leadership, Personal Development 0 Comments

One of our desires at BASIC is to be relevant and connect you with content that is going to best help you as you serve your campus and ministry context! In an effort to bring in fresh perspective and new ideas, we have asked a few student leaders and advisors to share their voice! We’ll get to hear from one of them each month. This week, we have the honor of hearing from Mariah Morse.

Mariah graduated from SUNY Cortland and has a passion for prayer and people to have genuine encounters with the Lord. She loves kids and is currently teaching this year.

“I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.” Psalm 86:12

As the sun rises early in the morning, so shall my heart rise with praise towards my God. When the light fades behind the hills, so shall my heart quietly remember His goodness towards me. If there is one thing I was made to do, it is to give God glory in all things.

This is the most powerful revelation He has for His children. Life has no meaning other than glorifying God. The longer I serve the Lord the more gratifying I find this truth to be. I believe that without this understanding Christians would be lost in their purpose for serving the King.

What can I give a God who needs nothing from me? What can I bring my creator who is all sufficient? The Lord has answered this question many times before, and the simplicity of His response provides me relief.“Your heart,” He whispers to me. My heart is all He’s wanting.

Each time I inquire this I am given the same response. I am reminded that He endured all things that I might know this truth. He doesn’t need my love, He wants my love. My response is to love Him in return. Glorifying God begins in the heart. It begins when the affections of His people are for Him alone.

The bible tells of a purpose for all of creation, everything exists and was created by God for His pleasure (Revelation 4:11). Here lies the beauty of it all. God takes pleasure in His people. There is nothing that can be added or taken away from this truth. I cannot make God love me anymore or any less than He always has. I choose to spend my lifetime in constant affection for the Lord who has given all for me.

The purpose of my life is to continually return love to the one who loves me unconditionally. In giving Him my heart He is well glorified. Love is the highest form of obedience that glorifies the Father. In fact, God shows in His word that He will find all who love him walking in His way.

“Anyone who loves me will obey my commandments,” John 14:23.

Jesus makes it clear that when we walk in God’s way it shows love for Him. I have never shown affection for the ones I love by causing them grief. I please those I care for by doing what they ask of me. The same is true in my relationship with Christ. Jesus glorified the Father through His obedience unto death on a cross (Philippians 2:8).

Jesus did all His Father asked of Him and brought eternal glory to His kingdom. My life should mirror how Jesus loved the Father. I purpose to live in a long obedience towards all that God calls me to do. I am not forced to but want to, no matter the cost, do all He asks of me.God does not force His love on us, nor does He make us love HIm in return. Obedience is not a requirement to receive God’s love.

God is love.

Love is never forced. Love is gentle. It is patient. It is kind. Love is enduring.  

I glorify my God by returning to Him the love He deserves.

I pray that my love for God would endure all seasons.

I pray that my love for God would manifest by walking in His ways.

I pray that my love for God would produce the fruit of His spirit in me.

“By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be my disciples.” John 15:8

I live my life on display for the glory of God. Let all who see me see Him. That they may come to know His goodness and favor in their lives. I was made to glorify my King.


About the Author

Sam DiStefano


Sam DiStefano went to school at SUNY Geneseo and earned a degree in Childhood with Special Education. It was at college, through BASIC, that she learned what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus. In June 2014, she joined on staff with BASIC and planted a chapter at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY that fall. BASIC has deeply affected Sam’s life and she feels called to help other students experience freedom and hope in Christ.


Leaders Lead People

Anna Marie Magyar Advisors & Student Leaders, Leadership, Personal Development 0 Comments

Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds” -Proverbs 27:23

If you have just read the title of this blog and are thinking “Well, duh!” you are most likely in good company. Grab your cold brew, and let’s dissect this thought together.

Jesus lead 12 men. Yes, He had other followers, but these 12 did life with Jesus. They witnessed Him seeking the Father’s heart, doing the miraculous and unthinkable, restoring hearts, mending brokenness, and saving souls. They heard Jesus speak of the cross, and what would come as a result. Jesus said to the 12 He led, “I have given you an example to follow” (John 13:15a).

Jesus did not just show the men how to walk through this life; He taught them how to lead people well. Jesus gives this statement we see in John 13 right after He very humbly washes the feet of all 12 disciples. Did you catch that? ALL. This included Judas, who would shortly betray Him. Jesus completes His thought in John 13:15 by commanding “Do as I have done to you.”

So what does this mean for us as present day leaders? Do we start every BASIC or other ministry meeting by washing the feet of all whom we disciple? Not necessarily, though I do recall one leader’s meeting where our BASIC advisor literally washed our feet. It was a beautiful reflection of God’s heart for us through this selfless, and humbling act of our advisor. We shared tears (and some laughs) knowing we were so deeply valued and loved by the one who led us each and every week. Although this acted as wonderful declaration of our advisor’s servant heart towards us, there were many other ways she regularly demonstrated this (Check out the diagram on the bottom for practical ideas!)

I love the way Jesus interacted with Peter. Peter, much like myself, had a terrible tendency of putting his foot in his mouth; saying things he should not, and making bold claims he could not live up to. Despite Peter’s imperfections, Jesus invested in Peter and called out his giftings and strengths (Luke 5). Peter was often invited to witness Jesus’ miracles (Mark 5:37 & Luke 8:51). Jesus never stopped pursuing Peter. He never stopped loving Peter, believing in him, or calling out his destiny. Jesus never compromised the truth with Peter, rather He held him accountable (Mark 8:33). Jesus taught Peter how to lead and left him with one final command “tend to my sheep” (John 1:15-17).

I believe this is the same command Jesus gives to us. We are gifted with the wonderful opportunity to lead others as Christ led the 12 then, and leads us today. As a team, we have our different missions or goals, events to plan, meetings to host, and many other obligations. Let us not get caught up in directing task-completers, but in leading people. These are people who will go on to influence a culture desperate for a God who would humble Himself in every way. Let us lead in such a way that those who follow us would, like Jesus said, go on to do even greater works than we have (John 14:12).

Practical Ways to Lead People:

I. Know who they are, not just what they can do

  1. Invite those you lead out for coffee, or to play basketball. Share a meal.
    1. This can be done individually and as a group.
  2. Get to know their interests, dreams, things they struggle with, and more of what makes them individuals.

Note: When individually building relationships, it is important that male leaders meet with other males, and female leaders meet with other females. This guards each other’s hearts as deeper relationships are built.

II. Show gratitude, respect, and humility.

  1. Those we lead often sacrifice much of their own time and resources, as well as hard work while serving in ministry. Gratitude for this can be shown in a variety of ways including cooking a meal for your leadership team, or simply saying “thank you.”
  2. Respect is huge! Consider the tone of your voice and things you say when speaking to those you lead.
  3. Although we desire to lead as Jesus did, we are far from perfect. Show humility by owning your mistakes, and asking for forgiveness. 

III. Lead with a servant’s heart.

About the Author

Anna Marie Magyar


Wife. Cat mom. Lover of Jesus, coffee, and all things Disney. I was a student leader in my BASIC group at the College of St. Rose and have continued to help out with the group after graduating.

Do Not Fear Change

Ryan Raflowski Advisors & Student Leaders, Leadership, Personal Development, Resources 0 Comments

Has there ever been a time when you were driving down the road to get to a destination only to be stopped by the unexpected? Whether it be construction, an accident, or maybe something blocking the road it can have an effect on your day. You might have to wait because you are stuck in traffic, turn around, and find an alternate route in order to be on your way. If you are like me, then you may get a little impatient at the inconvenience.

Most of us humans tend to enjoy a degree of predictability in our lives. We know exactly how we like our morning coffee, the fastest and most efficient route to work or school, and just where that one comfy spot is on our living room couch. We like knowing what is expected of us in our jobs or in our classes, including what responsibilities are ours and how we may accomplish them. Though we may enjoy some spontaneous moments in life, there are many situations in which we thrive off of routines.


Change tends to always land on our doorstep. We run out of coffee creamer, have to get a new couch, and have to take a detour due to construction. We know that these things happen, and we find ways to cope or adapt to these changes. This adaptation happens even though we are frustrated or confused because the bottom line is we have to get to work or class. We have to get our morning pick-me-up beverage somehow (or this day is going to be rough, am I right?). In some ways, we are forced to just “get over it” and move on with our day.

Well, what about the things in life that do not require an immediate response from us? Or what about the things in life where we can “get away” with things staying the same? You know things I am talking about—that thing that God has asked you to do, but you are just too scared? That change that needs to happen but you would like to hold onto predictability a bit longer? Perhaps you just are not sure how to go about it. Or maybe you know exactly what He is asking you to do and…you just are not going to do it?

May I suggest that we have all been here?

Well we have. Sometimes we just want to “be sure.” However this is, most times, an excuse to cling to our predictabilities. I always tell myself:

Delayed obedience is disobedience.

I am here to tell you today that God is interested in bringing you to a better place. It may be new or different, but His word tells us that His master plan is to “prosper us and not to harm us” (Jeremiah 29:11). Though it may seem like you are “losing,” God’s intentions are to give you something better or to bring you to a better place in your walk with Him. I think sometimes it is all about positioning us to receive the things He has for us, but we cannot always see it from this vantage point.

Maybe you…

  • Are not in the right relationship.
  • Are are meant for ministry and not what you originally planned to do.
  • Should consider the opinions or thoughts of your subordinates.
  • Need to take that next step that God has been asking you to do for a long time.
  • Need to make some different and more spiritually uplifting friendships.

Whatever it may be, let me offer you one piece of advice: if you are being challenged to make a personal change, share it with those around you. When we verbalize the things that God is calling us to do, our friends and mentors can keep us accountable. They can help remind us of what God has asked us to do, and even spur us forward in this truth! We need to be thankful for this accountability and not shy away from it. Our insecurities can sometimes be rooted in our own pride.

I will leave you with one simple but powerful reminder from scripture:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9


Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash


About the Author

Ryan Raflowski

Ryan is a school psychologist and co-advisor for the BASIC Chapter at SUNY Oswego. He desires to see a generation of young people recognize God's purpose and plan for their life. He tries to live "Kingdom-minded" and longs to see revival fire sweep across college campuses. You could probably find him walking around town playing Pokémon Go with his wife Kdee or indoors with their two cats Oliver and Lupin.

Support in the Struggle

Sam DiStefano Advisors & Student Leaders, Leadership, Personal Development 0 Comments

One of our desires at BASIC is to be relevant and connect you with content that is going to best help you as you serve your campus and ministry context! In an effort to bring in fresh perspective and new ideas, we have asked a few student leaders and advisors to share their voice! We’ll get to hear from one of them each month. This week, we have the honor of hearing from Ellen Murphy.

Ellen Murphy graduated in May from Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY. While at Le Moyne she was very involved with the BASIC group, and served as secretary for the group for two years. Besides Jesus, she is passionate about social justice, books, cute babies and iced caramel macchiatos.

Life can be a struggle bus, and we all will struggle at some point in our lives. The Bible says that in this life we will have troubles (John 16:33). Often when we are in the midst of pain is when we feel most alone. During these times of struggling is when we most need empathy and connection from those around us, and we often are left without, only deepening our pain.

I have dealt with a fair amount of struggle in the past few years. I have struggled with depression, anxiety disorders, self-harm, insecurity, and identity. I was emotionally abused and continue to deal with the effects. Most recently, my family has been walking through the pain of my mom’s diagnosis with stage four cancer.

Those are my Struggle Credentials. I only share them so that you know that this is coming out of a place of experience and honesty. These experiences in addition to watching many of those I love struggle have given me a sense of what actually helps someone in the midst of struggle, and what seems to only hurt more.

As leaders, we have to deal with our own problems, but we also are in a unique position to bring light into another’s dark place. But often it’s hard to know what to say or do. When a student has personal hardship, grief, and pain we often think, “I don’t want to make them feel worse,” or, “I just don’t know what to say.” So what can we say or do to actually help the struggling students, friends, and fellow leaders in our lives?

Here are some very practical ways you can help others on your team, club members, and friends who you know are struggling and bring light into their darkness:

Always Pray

Over and over the authors of the New Testament remind us that prayer is powerful and that our prayers are always heard (1 John 5:14-15). If you know someone is struggling, before you do anything else, begin praying for them, and pray for guidance in how to help them. Remember that only God knows what each individual person needs. Be in tune with the Holy Spirit, and if the Spirit leads you, offer to pray with the individual.

When my BASIC advisor could tell I was especially depleted or struggling, she would stop and pray over me. We had walked through life together enough that she knew what was happening in my life, and she was able to speak life into my darkness. If you feel led to pray for someone, ask them if they would be comfortable with it. Some people may feel uncomfortable being prayed over in public, and may want to do it out of sight, or may just be doing so badly in that moment that being prayed over would send them spiraling (I have been there many times!). If you ask and they say no, just continue to lift them up internally.

Focus Up

Keep your focus on the person in pain, and not on yourself. I remember going to an event with people from my parent’s Church just a week or two after my mom’s cancer was confirmed as stage four. At this gathering I received many responses to my mom’s cancer—most bad with only a few good ones—but two stood out the most. One woman clung to my arm in hysterics saying over and over again “this is just terrible, it’s just horrible, it’s just terrible,” etc. I had to comfort HER, while I was thinking “Gee, I’m sure this is very hard for you, someone who barely knows my family.” Don’t make the person struggling comfort you about their own situation. If need be, find a trustworthy person outside the situation to comfort you. Be attentive to what the person in pain needs, and save your negative reactions for others.

The other negative response to avoid is attempting to be helpful without paying attention to what the struggling person actually needs. At that party, a woman who had survived a vastly different type and stage of cancer explained at length her suggestions for dealing with side effects and complications I hadn’t even considered yet. Instead of being helpful, it was horrifying, and I left the conversation far more overwhelmed than before.

Read the situation, and consider whether the advice you want to give is for their benefit, or yours. Don’t share advice to make yourself feel better. Consider waiting to give advice until asked for it, or if you decide to share with the person, be sure to do so gently. It is so important to just listen. John 15:13 says “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” When talking to someone who is struggling, remember to lay down your life, your expectations, your reactions, and your advice in order to love and serve them.

Gift Giving

This is a great practical way to tell those in pain that you love them. When my mom was diagnosed, I saw an incredible outpouring from the people around me. A girl in one of my classes left a bag outside my door with a coloring book and some tea. My RA staff gave me a basket filled with goodies. The staff at the office I worked in gave me a card they had all signed. In a very real way, these gifts didn’t fix my mom’s cancer. However, these gifts were tangible ways that I knew I was loved and supported. If you know someone is struggling, go out of your way to get them their favorite candy, or a small gift that reminds you of them. Every time they look at that gift they will know they are loved and not alone.

Be there

Whether you see someone once a week at BASIC or every single day, make sure you are there for them when they need you. For me this has looked like a fellow RA who pulled me out of bed when I was in a fetal position having a panic attack, got me to eat, and sat through my RA duty shift with me because she knew I couldn’t handle it alone. It also looked like a fellow BASIC student leader who saw me about to burst into tears about my mom’s diagnosis, pulled me into another room, and sat with me as I cried. It looked like that same person listening to me cry and scream on the phone in the middle of the night. It looked like a dear friend whose own mom has battled cancer, holding my hand when a speaker at BASICcon mentioned cancer. Be physically present for those you know are struggling, it can mean the world to them.

Give space

Sometimes what a person who is struggling needs most is space to process. As an introvert who struggles with depression and anxiety disorders, space is incredibly important to me. This may seem to completely contradict the last point to Be There. It’s important that as you give someone space, you also give them the assurance that you are there for them. Send an out of the blue text saying hi. Leave a small gift or note outside their door. When you do see them be sure they know they can count on you. Respect their need for personal space and time to process their pain, and be sure they know that when they are ready you will be there.

Empathize Well

Galatians 6:2 says to “bear one another’s burdens,” and the best way to do this is by empathizing with those in pain. Research Professor Brené Brown who studies vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and connection says that empathy is “feeling with people.” This is almost exactly what the author of Galatians says to do. Allow those struggling to feel their pain and walk with them through it. Remember that only the grace of God can heal, we are simply there to support one another through the journey. To learn more about empathy and how it differs from sympathy, watch more of Brown’s work (Here is my favorite:

If you are struggling today, find someone to talk to. Your BASIC advisor, a student leader, a trusted friend, a mentor, a pastor, a therapist—find someone who will do things like this list to help you, and will walk through your pain with you. Remember, you are not alone.

About the Author

Sam DiStefano


Sam DiStefano went to school at SUNY Geneseo and earned a degree in Childhood with Special Education. It was at college, through BASIC, that she learned what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus. In June 2014, she joined on staff with BASIC and planted a chapter at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY that fall. BASIC has deeply affected Sam’s life and she feels called to help other students experience freedom and hope in Christ.


I’m Unqualified

Sam DiStefano Advisors & Student Leaders, Leadership, Personal Development 0 Comments

One of our desires at BASIC is to be relevant and connect you with content that is going to best help you as you serve your campus and ministry context! In an effort to bring in fresh perspective and new ideas, we have asked a few student leaders and advisors to share their voice! We’ll get to hear from one of them each month. This week, we have the honor of hearing from Michael Polzella.

Michael has been involved in leadership at both the Suffolk County Community College and St. Joseph’s College BASIC Chapters. After transferring to St. Joseph’s in Spring 2012, Michael planted the BASIC chapter in Fall 2013 and currently remains active as the group’s Church Advisor.

Have you ever felt like there was something that you wanted to do or something that you felt like you HAD to do, or even, something that you felt that God wanted you to do but didn’t feel like you have the proper qualifications to fulfill the role? If you answered “yes” to any of the previous questions, then I want to remind you that you are not alone. If you answered “no”, I know you’re lying—or not human.

As leaders, it’s normal to sometimes feel inadequate in our own abilities. So, what do we do when we don’t feel adequate enough? Pray. Pray for God to show up in the situation… and He will.

Let me just take a minute to share a personal story of how God intervened in my weakness. After being involved with BASIC College Ministries at Suffolk County Community College and completing my Associate Degree, I transferred to St. Joseph’s College. At the time, I felt like God was impressing on my heart to start a BASIC chapter at St. Joseph’s.

I found out that the school currently had another campus ministry already there. When speaking with the club’s executives, I was told that the school wouldn’t allow a BASIC chapter there since its mission and vision is almost identical to the other ministry. That’s where the story ends, right? Well, not exactly.

I eventually got voted onto the leadership team at that ministry as the Secretary.  When that term was up, I felt that God wanted me to run for President and make a few changes. Over time and prayer, the group ended up going in a different direction and became a BASIC chapter like I had hoped from the start!

At this time, I knew God was calling me into leadership, but I didn’t feel qualified to do it. Yes, I am a pastor’s kid; yes, I’ve sat through 100,000 sermons; yes, I’ve heard a million prayers — but I still didn’t feel qualified to do what I felt God was telling me to do.

While talking this over with one of my friends, Will, the vice president-elect for that school term, told me something that changed my perspective on the whole situation. He said, “God doesn’t call the qualified… He qualifies the called.”

Steven Furtick of Elevation Church said something similar in his book (Un)Qualified (awesome book if you get the chance to read it):

“If you look at the great men and women of Scripture, you find one common denominator: they were all unqualified. God has a habit of picking people who have been passed over.”

Wow, that’s powerful stuff. So, what did that mean for me? It meant that I didn’t have to feel confident in my own abilities because I was confident in God’s ability. I am just the vessel that is used by God.

So, to wrap up this story, I ended up becoming president of BASIC’s newest chapter in the fall of 2014. Unbeknownst to me at the time, God was not only orchestrating my love for BASIC back in 2010 while I was a student and the ability to lead through the transition, but He also paved the way for me to become the Church Advisor for the St. Joseph’s BASIC group in the spring of 2016.

Through all of this, God has shown me that we must rely on His power and not on our own. When the time comes, God will give you the qualifications needed to complete whatever task He’s impressing on your heart to complete.

About the Author

Sam DiStefano


Sam DiStefano went to school at SUNY Geneseo and earned a degree in Childhood with Special Education. It was at college, through BASIC, that she learned what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus. In June 2014, she joined on staff with BASIC and planted a chapter at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY that fall. BASIC has deeply affected Sam’s life and she feels called to help other students experience freedom and hope in Christ.

Do it Afraid

Do it Afraid

Sam DiStefano Advisors & Student Leaders, Leadership, Personal Development 0 Comments

One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to go on “adventures” with my friends. Adventures can be anything from deciding to get ice cream, to going kayaking, to finding a sunflower field. One day, I had the pleasure of adventuring in Ithaca and found myself at a swimming area that was surrounded by cliffs to jump off of.

I saw person after person jump into the water from all different heights and I wanted in on the action. I went to the biggest cliff first and peaked over the edge. My throat closed up and I felt my stomach drop. I was afraid, my mind started racing with all the ways this was a dumb idea and how badly I could get hurt if I did it wrong. There was a certain level of risk involved. Not only could I actually physically get hurt, but my pride would be bruised if I stepped up and didn’t end up jumping. No one wants to be that guy.

I went back and forth a million times, waiting for my turn, then getting out of line when I got close. Finally, I took a deep breath and decided I was going to do it afraid. The thoughts hadn’t stopped, the sinking feeling in my stomach hadn’t gone away, but something inside me knew that taking on this cliff was what I had to do.

In life, we are often confronted with these kind of moments. Maybe you aren’t jumping off a literal cliff, but it can certainly feel like it. We have all encountered decisions or opportunities that scare us. What if I make the wrong choice? What if I risk everything for this and I fail? What if I take a chance on this person and they end up hurting me?

There was a man who was very comfortable in the life he had built for himself. He had a wife, children and a peaceful job working for his father in law. But one day, God showed up in a burning bush, and spoke something that would change his life forever. “Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

Our man Moses was not about that plan, and for good reason. He had a nice, safe life. He had a past he would rather forget in Egypt. He did not see himself as qualified for the job. He was not eloquent and certainly not confident. He says in Exodus 3:11, “Who am I that you would send me?” That’s how he felt. Maybe that is how you feel too.

I think there is a tension that exists inside of all of us to live a life worth telling stories about and to feel established and safe and secure. Life with God often means being called outside your comfort zone. It means daring to dream that you were made for so much more than simply existing. Moses was given an opportunity to go on a God sized adventure, and he was very much afraid.

God’s response to Moses and to you is simple, “I will be with you.” It is ok if you are fearful. It’s ok if you don’t feel adequate, or prepared or qualified. It’s ok if the uncertainty of the future causes you to be afraid. Just don’t stay there.

Today I am here to tell you that God himself goes with you. He is already on the other side of your big decision, your crazy leap of faith, your stepping out into the unknown. He knows where you are going and leads you with wisdom and kindness. Don’t let fear paralyze you from making moves. Let the knowledge that God holds you bring your heart into perfect peace. He will make the way, He will give you what you need, and He will give you the courage.

Spoiler alert: Moses did leave everything to go to Egypt. His yes to God impacted an entire people. He was very much afraid, but he did it anyway. I jumped off a cliff. What are you going to do? Are you willing to hand your fear to God so that He can take you on the adventure of a lifetime? Sometimes you just got to do it, do it afraid.


About the Author

Sam DiStefano


Sam DiStefano went to school at SUNY Geneseo and earned a degree in Childhood with Special Education. It was at college, through BASIC, that she learned what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus. In June 2014, she joined on staff with BASIC and planted a chapter at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY that fall. BASIC has deeply affected Sam’s life and she feels called to help other students experience freedom and hope in Christ.

Super Simple Bible Study

Super Simple Bible Study

Sam DiStefano Advisors & Student Leaders, Leadership, Personal Development, Resources 0 Comments

I never grew up going to Sunday school, but almost everyone knows the song, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” At the risk of sounding ridiculous, the lyrics are actually pretty profound. Somewhere along the line, we have made cool one-liners and little sound bytes a substitute for you know, ACTUALLY reading our Bibles. If we did, we would find that the good book does indeed tell an incredible story of redemption and love. The word leads us in wisdom and has the power to transform our hearts and minds.

Romans 15:4 says, “Everything written in the Scriptures was written to teach us, in order that we might have hope through the patience and encouragement which the Scriptures give us.”

So if you are anything like me, knowing that we should read the Bible isn’t the problem, it’s how to do it well. Where do you start? How do you understand what it means? How do you make sure you are interpreting it correctly?

I have done some research and asked some questions. I wanted to find the MOST simple and easy way for leaders and students to read the Bible and lead Bible studies with confidence. The following five questions can be utilized on any passage of Scripture and can easily be used for one on one situations or in a large group setting.  They are not my own, but versions of them have been floating around the internet for some time (If you know please let me know so I can kiss them with thankfulness!)

  1. What does this passage teach us about God?
  2. What does this passage teach us about man?
  3. Is there a command to obey, an example to follow, or a promise to claim?
  4. How does the truth of this passage differ from what we see in culture today?
  5. How can I specifically apply this passage to my life?

That’s it! Can you believe it?! I love these questions because they are super simple. They are easy to model and easy to reproduce. This is a good place to start if you want to grow your Bible reading muscles or if you would like to start your own Bible study! These questions help us figure out what the word is actually trying to communicate and leads us to a place of personal application.

Do you have a go to Bible study? What are your favorite questions to ask while you are reading the scripture? Comment and share your experience!


About the Author

Sam DiStefano


Sam DiStefano went to school at SUNY Geneseo and earned a degree in Childhood with Special Education. It was at college, through BASIC, that she learned what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus. In June 2014, she joined on staff with BASIC and planted a chapter at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY that fall. BASIC has deeply affected Sam’s life and she feels called to help other students experience freedom and hope in Christ.

New Year, New Vision

Anna Marie Magyar Advisors & Student Leaders, Event Ideas, Leadership, Personal Development, Planning, Resources 0 Comments

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” -Isaiah 43:19

Hello, friend! I hope this blog finds you well and with a great big cup of coffee! I would be dishonest if I did not share with you that as I write this it is currently 8:00 at night, and I am enjoying the most delicious vanilla sweet cream cold brew!

As a sixth grade teacher and a volunteer serving in college ministry, the summer presents itself as an invaluable time. I am intentional to rest and recuperate, but also in preparation for the new school year. I begin to pray and ask the Lord what new and exciting things He will do. I celebrate as I recall His marvelous works the year prior, and recount the ways He provided, opened doors I thought were sealed shut, and gave us opportunities I could not have asked nor dreamt of.

I also bring to the Lord the areas I may need wisdom in, situations I felt were challenging, and things I feel we need to do differently or completely get rid of. Without failure, the Lord meets me in this time of dreaming and visioning for the new year. I am filled with a new hope, new excitement and joy, and a new vision for how we can show the unconditional and unimaginable love of our God to our campus.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” -James 1:5

As the topic for this blog began brewing in my mind, I was reminded of James 1:5. For so many of us, we expect the same from the Lord that we have received or encountered with people. Circumstances with influential people in our lives begin to influence the lens through which we see our Heavenly Father. It becomes easy, even natural, to question if we deserve what we seek from the Lord, or if Jesus is truly faithful to give as generously and freely as He has promised.

It is for this reason I am so thankful for the Word, and the wisdom James received and shared. The Lord is faithful to give to you generously and without finding fault; not because He gains anything, but because He made you, He loves you, and He is pleased with you. If you question this, I challenge you to put it into practice. Seek the Lord, be open to Him doing a new thing, and watch as He amazes you with His faithfulness.

I am so excited for the new things the Lord will do this year. I am seeking Him as I embark on the new challenge at my job in doing math centers to improve learning opportunities for my students. Excitement fills me as the leaders and advisers of Saint Rose BASIC begin a whole new structure to our weekly meeting schedule (read on below if you are interested to see what this format will be). And I am filled with joy and wonder in the new thing the Lord has for you!

My friend, I want to encourage you that there is new vision for your future, your family and your life. The Lord promises to do a new thing, and I believe that is possible for you regardless of your season of life. I pray you seek His face diligently knowing that although change may seem difficult at times, you have a God who is so passionate about you that He would never leave you nor forsake you in the midst of these changes (Deuteronomy 31:6 and Hebrews 13:5).

Saint Rose Basic Meeting Schedule: Fall 2017

Starting in the fall, we will run our meetings in a four week rotation, as follows:

Week 1: Meeting will include a worship set of three songs and a message from an in-house speaker, like our advisor. A student leader will be asked to take notes on the message to share a summary of at the next week’s meeting.

Week 2: We will have worship, most likely a shorter set to account for time, and then the student leader who took notes the week prior will come up to briefly share a summary of week one’s message. This is done so that anyone who missed the week prior will not be left out of the small group discussions we will be transitioning to after the summary. Small groups will be led by student leaders who will have focus questions that will build off the week prior. We will end our meeting with a social activity of some kind.

Week 3: During this week, we will have a typical worship set of three songs, and a guest speaker. The plan is to get guest speakers from our sponsor church to help our students get even more connected.

Week 4: On the final week, we plan to have a fun get-together. We chose to incorporate this into our meeting schedule for several reasons. Firstly, many of our members already plan to attend the BASIC meetings Thursday nights. Trying to plan an event on another evening often loses several people who can’t come because of classes or other commitments. Additionally, our leaders work so hard and pour so much of themselves into the bi-weekly leaders meetings, weekly BASIC meetings, getting together with students, and their own personal to-do lists and responsibilities. Oftentimes planning additional events on top of this can be too much for our leaders. We’re making this change to avoid burnout in our leaders, and to prevent what is supposed to be a good thing becoming a burden upon them.

Words cannot express how excited I am with the changes we are making! I hope to update you on the progress of this shift in the future. 

About the Author

Anna Marie Magyar


Wife. Cat mom. Lover of Jesus, coffee, and all things Disney. I was a student leader in my BASIC group at the College of St. Rose and have continued to help out with the group after graduating.