Comparing and Competing

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

Something that I’ve noticed lately is how fascinated we are with talking about our personality types. Everyone asks each other whether they are an introvert or an extrovert, a thinker or a feeler. And if you don’t know, then you’re supposed to go online and take a free test to figure out how your mind works.

The last time I took the test was a few months ago and I turned out to be an ENTJ. So that makes me extroverted, intuitive, a thinker, and a judger, or what 16 Personalities likes to call it, “The Executive.” After you get your results there are pages upon pages of explanation of your personality type, how common it is or isn’t, and how it relates to other personalities.

I find that we tend to compare our personalities with each other. We like to see the differences between us, and then determine if one personality trait is “better” than the other. Comparison is something that has exploded throughout our generation as millennials. We compare personalities, we compare our Instagram profiles, and we compare ourselves to impossible standards portrayed through media exposure.

I find myself comparing all of the time. I compared myself to other women I would see on social media, and to other people’s lives and how great they were compared to mine. It came to a point where I had to delete my social media pages because I became consumed in measuring up to the standards set before me on my iPhone.

And then I had a thought, how is it possible to compare two people who are uniquely made?

If we look at the definition of the word compare we see it defined as, “to represent as similar.” We are not able to live in this unhealthy mindset of comparison because we were not made to be compared with each other. We are each uniquely designed and created by God for a purpose that is set apart from all else, we are not similar.

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mothers womb.” We were uniquely created by God, not carbon copies printed out designed to be compared to each other. We are God’s special possession, something to be cherished.

I love Lisa Bevere and her book, Without Rival. It really takes this idea of comparison and being made unique to a new level of understanding.

She says,

“God uniquely created your DNA and knit your frame in secret so he could surprise the world. He authored how your heart expresses itself; he was the architect of your smile and the melody of your voice; he made all of your features with the fondest thoughts of only you in mind. He celebrated along with your parents your first smile and watched with affection your first steps.”

I love her wording and her explanation throughout this section in her book. We are unique and complex creations. We look different, sound different, are gifted differently, we like and dislike different things. We were created this way to celebrate the differences and uniqueness, not compare them and decide who is better than who.

Often, especially on social media, when you’re comparing yourself with others, you’re comparing their highlights to your behind-the-scenes. Not only are we unable to compare because of the fact that we are unique, but we are unable to compare because of the fact that what we see on social media is not real. It’s edited, fabricated, and embellished from the truth. 

When we change our mindset and outlook on comparison we are no longer insecure, we have less doubt, and we are able to live life freely and more enjoyably. We are able to stop competing with each other and begin to encourage and lift up others. 

Stop Comparing. Stop Competing. Be Unique.


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.

When Other People Get What You Want

When Other People Get What You Want

Sam DiStefano Advisors & Student Leaders, Leadership, Personal Development 1 Comment

Let’s face it, we have all felt it; that hot jealousy that rises up in us when someone else gets what we really wanted. We don’t want to feel that way, we don’t want to be upset over it, but sure enough, the feeling hits you like a brick wall.

It comes in many shapes and many ways. Maybe you are feeling inadequate because you have applied to what feels like a million jobs with no luck and your friend got their dream job right out of college. Maybe you feel stuck or left behind because you have received your 6th wedding invitation this year and you can’t even snag a date!

Maybe you scroll through your feed and are overwhelmed with feelings of restlessness and dissatisfaction because you didn’t just climb a mountain in Peru like your friend Paco. Maybe you are feeling frustrated that someone (who in your humble opinion is a big ol jerk) is stepping into their dreams and you feel like you are still waiting on something, anything to start going good.

You are not alone. We live in a world that is fast paced and on display for all to see. With the prominence of social media today, young adults more often then not walk away from a scroll sesh feeling envious and inadequate. So what gives? What do we do when other people seem to be living the life that we want?

God has something to say about this. God thought it was SO important that He made sure to include it in the ten commandments. Deuteronomy 5:21 says, “ And you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. And you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, or his male servant, or his female servant, his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

So in today’s language, don’t be desirous of your friend’s bae, their stuff, or their life. The word covet means to yearn, crave, or want really really badly. Craving someone else’s stuff, circumstances, financial situation, opportunity or relationship status doesn’t change anything for them and really only hurts you. Teddy Roosevelt once accurately said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” 

The author of Hebrews writes in 13:5, “ Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself (Jesus) has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’” A jealous heart is usually a discontent one. A discontent heart says, “What God has given isn’t enough.” This attitude is harmful to your spirit and can lead to bitterness, frustration, anger and reeks of ungratefulness.

As believers we have a promise. Jesus comes alongside of you and says, “I’m not going anywhere kid and I’m never going to abandon you.” God knows us and loves us. He knows exactly what we need and want and will always provide for us according to His perfect will. He actually promises to give us the desires of our heart when we make a habit of delighting ourselves in Him (Psalm 37:4) The discipline we must learn is being content in the knowledge of His goodness.

If you are struggling today, I challenge you to take a break and challenge your own perspective. Where is your gaze? What are you focusing on? What is one beautiful thing in your life right now? When was the last time you took time to delight in God?

It is only in the light of understanding who you are and how loved you are by the God of the Universe, that you will be able to trust. God is for you. He is writing YOUR story and you can be sure it’s a good one. Don’t let the enemy steal one more second of your joy. Focus your heart on Him and His promises to you and watch every fear and jealous thought disappear.


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.

Coffee & Rest

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

It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.

—C. S. Lewis

The chills of the rain and wind ruin what I believe the beauty of this May afternoon should be. Rather than warming up with a hot cup of something delicious, I choose to stay cool and go for my favorite lavender and ginger latte (Sounds crazy, but you MUST try it!). I wait patiently to be joined in this quaint coffee shop by an old friend, where there will be full conversations, endless laughs, and words of encouragement that bring hope to my soul.

My name is Anna Marie. I love coffee, Jesus, my wonderful husband, teaching my sixth graders, and my house tiger, Rajah (not necessarily in that order). You and I may never meet, but I hope the connections that will be made through the words typed across this page, and the pages to come, will bring you encouragement, hope, vision, useful and applicable tools, and of course, the desperate need to try a lavender and ginger iced latte (as seen on the left).

Rest. Something I have been longing for. I don’t just mean a good night sleep. I mean the rest that comes from being in the quiet place–the presence of the Lover of My Soul. I long to return and to stay in this place of deep rest. My calendar, rather, longs to remind me of school deadlines, lessons to be written, activities to be created, coffee dates to be had, that hiding laundry by the washer doesn’t mean that it is done….and so on.

My life is full of GOOD things.

Encountering Jesus at 17 has forever changed the course of my life as I joyfully grabbed His hand and accepted the journey of a lifetime. I have an amazing church, friendships that encourage me to grow, mentors who are always there, students who make me see all of the good I can do (and all that needs to go), fulfilling ministries, a husband who is truly the Aladdin to my Jasmine, and a cat who completes our magical family.

In the midst of all of these good things, it is easy to become distracted by what the Lord has blessed me with and miss the times where I need to enter into His presence.

Is there anything keeping you from entering into that quiet place? A busy schedule? Pursuit of goals? Family obligations? Shame? Fear? Anger? Whatever it is, I pray we overcome these obstacles that would keep us from fully entering in and knowing the peace of the Lord that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). That we would be changed as our mind renews through His word (Romans 12:2) and the hope we have would not only anchor our souls, but those around us who are lost and desperate for truth & this love we have been given.

This rest–His presence, is what will change our hearts and minds. It’s what will bring healing and renewal to the depths of our souls. As we commune with our Heavenly Father, our lives will be changed. Our classrooms, dorm rooms, and college campuses will be changed. Families and relationships will be healed. Generational ties will be broken. Destinies will be realized. We will know who we truly are and who we were made to be in our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus.

My prayer over you:

Lord, thank you for this son/daughter whom You have called to know Your deep love for them & to be a part of Your amazing plan to make what is on earth as it is in heaven. I pray You would increase their hunger to know Your character, Your heart, and Your thoughts. Continue to pursue them in this life and bring them to amazing places and opportunities that reflect Your goodness and heart for them. Help them to enter into the life giving rest of Your presence.


Practical ways to find rest in the Lord:

  1. Plan time to rest
    • Wake up early to spend time with the Lord by praying, worshiping, reading your word or a devotional.
  2. Journaling
    • Life can be distracting. Grab your journal, a good pen (coffee!), and begin writing your prayers, appreciations, experiences and emotions to the Lord.
  3. Being still  (Psalm 46:10)
    • Be diligent to sit in a time of silence before the Lord. I like to put on worship music, sit in a comfy chair, and close my eyes. Being still before Him allows me to actively enter into His presence–a place of peace.


About the Author

Anna Marie Magyar


Wife. Cat mom. Lover of Jesus, coffee, and all things Disney.

To be in the Presence

To Be In The Presence

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 Emily Baker.

Hey there, I’m Emily Baker! I’m a former student of SUNY Cortland, where I served for three semesters as the Worship Leader for our BASIC Chapter. I got to experience all of the joys of being a part of college ministry including seeing our group grow and watching the Lord radically change some of my best friends lives! I am now the Worship Director at a church in Cortland called Believers’ Chapel Cortland, and am getting to witness God do amazing things in the city.

God’s presence is everything. The closer I grow towards Him, the more I realize that understanding what it means to be in His presence is so incredibly important. As a worship leader I have found some people have never been taught what it means to be in the presence of God. They have never been taught why it is an amazing privilege to be able to enter the presence of our Creator.

When I look at the Bible, I find that one of my favorite moments in history happened right after Jesus died as he was hanging on the cross. Matthew 27:50-54 displays this moment:

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. 54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

The part I’d like to focus on is verse 51 when the veil inside the temple was torn in two. In the days before Jesus there was a temple built to house the presence of God. Within the temple there was a massive veil that separated the Holy of Holiesthe room where the presence of God residedand the rest of the temple. This veil symbolized the separation of man from God’s presence because of how he had turned from the ways of God to pursue ways of his own. Only high priests were allowed into the Holy of Holies once a year on behalf of all of Israel to atone for their sins.

So, what is so significant about this veil being torn at the very moment of Jesus’ death? The veil being torn proclaims the radical reality that Jesus’ sacrifice, his body being bloodied and torn, was a sufficient sacrifice for the wrong we have done. With the veil torn, every single one of us now has unlimited, twenty-four-seven, VIP access to the presence, the love, the forgiveness, the mercy, the peace, the freedom, the joy, and the grace that is found only in Him.

With this amazing truth in mind, I believe that God is calling us higher. If we’re being honest, life can be a little crazy. In one moment, you may be having the best season of your life. Maybe you encountered God at BASICCON, your grades are amazing, and your friendships are incredible. Then all of the sudden life throws you a curve ball; you don’t pass that one final that you spent hours studying for, someone cuts you off and you said some words under your breath that you shouldn’t have, your car breaks down when there’s no money in your bank account. Maybe you even find yourself skipping out on Bible reading because busyness has consumed your mind.

Within a moment our circumstances can completely change our countenance. We forget about the encounter we had with Him at BASICON because we lose sight of Him. We live in a world that wants nothing to do with Jesus and are constantly bombarded with it’s opinions and behaviors. If we’re not careful, we can easily find ourselves in the same patterns and mindset that we were in before.

But see, Jesus paid the highest price a man could pay, and I don’t think He paid it for us to remain the same. I don’t think He died so we could keep walking in anger, and frustration, lust, and anxiety, pride, and depression. You know what I think He paid for?

I think He paid for us to step behind the veil. I think He paid for us to hold unswervingly to the hope He’s given us, being untouched by whatever the world tries to throw our way. I think He paid for us to walk in the world shining bright His character, being cleansed from the character of the world. I think He paid for us to draw near to Him sincerely and get truly intimate, so that we can find freedom from all of the junk that tries to creep into our lives.

He is waiting; He is there; He is available to us through Jesus. It’s time to go deep with Him; to boldly enter into His presence, yielding to His skillful hands, allowing Him to change us and mold us to look more like Him. Will you discover what it is to be in the presence?

19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

Hebrews 10:19-23


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.

Making the Most of Your Summer

Making The Most Of Your Summer

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

School is out, summer is in and life is good. The first few weeks of summer break always seem the sweetest. Papers, finals, and grades are all just distant memories and before us we have seemingly endless days of relaxing, reading, exploring, and enjoying our summers. As a college student, thinking about being back on campus is probably the furthest thing from your mind. Today I want to give you some practical ways you can make the most of your summer.


College campuses are amazing places to be immersed in community. When you conveniently live just minutes from all your friends, it is easy to feel connected. Many students love their BASIC groups because of the community it creates. When summer begins, many people go back to their hometowns and friends are no longer a text away. Be intentional about making connections.

Often, we wait for others to reach out to us, but I encourage you this summer to be the person who takes initiative. Connect with both the people in your current context and your friends from school. If you aren’t already connected to a church back home, make the effort to find one and get involved. Send a text, write a letter, make a call and let the people in your life know that you are thinking of them and praying for them. This ensures you are being built up at home and deepening connections for your return in the Fall.

Reach out to Newbies

College ministry is a revolving door. As we say goodbye to one class of Seniors, a whole new batch of Freshman make their way onto the scene. More so than other ministries, we must be on our game when it comes to reaching out and welcoming incoming students. During the summer, many colleges give tours for accepted students that often include group fairs. Don’t miss this opportunity to connect with Freshman before they arrive!

If you haven’t already, check your school’s summer calendar and see if your BASIC group can get some local students to represent the club on those days. Make sure to have some way to collect their contact info and reach out to them the first week of classes! This simple strategy will make a big difference when school starts.

Do your homework

Many BASIC chapters have already made plans for their upcoming Fall semester (PROPS). This is an amazing way to be prepared and ready to hit the ground running when the semester begins. If you haven’t, do not fret! I challenge all groups to do their summer homework.

What is working on college campuses? What ways can you improve your evangelism approach? How can you reach a bigger percentage of students on your campus? During the summer you have time you wouldn’t necessarily have once school begins. Use it wisely to learn new methods, read up on best practices, and catch up on powerful teachings and podcasts. Knowledge is power and it is always a good idea to keep learning, even during the summer.

Set goals

There is a quote that says, “If you don’t know where you are going, how are you going to get there?” It is easy for us to get busy once school starts and revert back to doing things the way we have always done them. Setting big picture goals and making strides to achieve them are what launch ministries, groups, and people into the next level.

Has your leadership team set goals for this upcoming year? What are you dreaming about for your life? Your BASIC chapter? I encourage you to sit down this summer and dream about what you would like to accomplish this upcoming year and how you plan to do it. When we are intentional about setting goals, we are already one step closer to actually seeing them happen. 


With all the papers, tests, and projects during the year, it can feel like rest is an old forgotten friend. With the pressure to juggle your school work, family stuff, personal relationships, and Jesus time, there seems to be little to no room for actual rest. I encourage you to intentionally take time to rest this summer.

Rest doesn’t always mean taking naps (though praise Jesus for a good nap! Can I get an Amen?). Be intentional about doing things that bring rest to your soul. Is it kayaking? Going on hikes with friends? Sipping coffee and reading at a local coffee shop? Soak up this opportunity to rest and recharge.

Spend time with Jesus

Summer may be a break from school, but it shouldn’t be a break from spending time with Jesus. Just like any relationship, it will take work. Summer schedules can fill up and get really busy, really fast. Do yourself a favor and make spending time with Jesus a priority. Whether it’s spending some time in the morning reading and doing devotionals before work or going on a walk after dinner to chat with Him, you will never regret the moments you intentionally pursue Him.

If you only do one thing this summer I pray that this is it. Jesus will speak truth to your heart, calm fear, and release dreams and vision over you. Deeper intimacy with God is the best way to prepare for anything the future might hold for you! Let Jesus encourage your heart this summer and take you to new places in Him!

I pray that these six things excite you and motivate you to make the most of your summer! Enjoy the season!

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.

Purpose Through Passion

Purpose Through Passion

Sam DiStefano Advisors & Student Leaders, Leadership, Personal Development, Resources 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 Kaitlyn Puukila.

Kaitlyn PuukilaHey guys! My name is Kaitlyn and I am a recent graduate from the University at Albany, where I served as BASIC President for 2 years. Although it came with some challenges, I loved every second of it and have seen God do some amazing things through BASIC. Now that I have joined the world of jobs and bills, I am SO excited to be here to share just a few thoughts with you, in hopes of giving you some encouragement… so please read on!

“The word passion comes from the Latin root pati-, meaning suffering, or enduring. Passion is, at its core, a form of pain that demands it be quenched.”

–Vivek Haldar

 Passion is one of God’s greatest creations, and is what helps us make a difference in the world. Passion is what drives a soldier to defend his country, or a man to protect his family. Passion takes away the fear and creates courage when you need to start a new chapter in your life. Passion is the verb that drives you to do things that you wouldn’t normally do.

So what are you passionate about? Is it dancing, singing or writing? Do you love animals or learning about new cultures? Do you have a passion for leading on your college campus? 1 Peter 4:10 says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s very grace.” But where to start? I have a gift and a passion, but how do I use it in my daily life to serve and bless God? 

The Bible says in Psalm 37:4, “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desire of your heart.” Did you know that not only does God want to give us the desires of our hearts, but He’s the one who put them there? When we get to know God’s character and who He is, that’s when the desires of His heart become our own. Don’t get me wrong, it would be pretty sweet (pun very much intended) to say “please” and get giant bowl of ice-cream anytime I desired it. But what does passion have to do with knowing God?

When we start to desire the things God desires like love, joy, peace, forgiveness, and wisdom, that’s when God can use you no matter what you’re doing. Think of it this way, if God can use us when we have nothing to offer, imagine how much more we can be used when we ask Him to work through us in part of our lives where He’s created us to be passionate! Not only can He use us, but it brings Him joy to see us want to know Him better and use the gifts He’s given us.

So if we were made to be passionate, then why do we sometimes feel like we need to give up on the things we love in order to be a “good Christian”? Our culture wants to put God in a box, so it’s easy to start thinking He can only work through us when we are in church, at a bible study, or at our Basic groups where people already know about God. That is far from the truth though, and in fact quite the opposite. When we have a heart to serve, it’s not about leaving behind things we are passionate about. It’s about letting God be a part of those things and allowing Him to use your passion to speak to and love on people.

If you’re not sure what you’re passionate about, that’s okay! Take time to learn about yourself and ask God to reveal your passions to you. This site here is a great resource to do just that. God is not limited by your daily routine or by your adventurous lifestyle. There are no boundaries to how He can use you. All He requires is your willingness and a desire to know His heart, and that’s when you will begin to walk out your purpose through your passions.

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.

Evaluating Success

Evaluating Success

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

There are natural periods in which it is appropriate to evaluate your ministry’s success. For college ministry, one of those times is at the conclusion of the academic year. It is a time to look back and reflect on what the victories were in addition to what could have gone better (and the reasons why). As a leader it is important to evaluate success because it allows for the growth of your organization or ministry. I like to think of each year as a building block with which the following year can be built on. A growth mindset is important because we want our ministry and its members to be growing!

There are a few ways to evaluate your success. Let’s consider the following:

Reviewing Goals

Any successful organization is strongly connected to an overarching vision or mission statement. The vision or mission of an organization can act as a compass to guide you throughout the year. For example, if your vision is to outreach to the community more, you can center your organization’s events, leadership development, and teachings around…..wait for it……community outreach! Once you have this organizational framework and mindset you can easily set goals throughout your year.

Ask yourself:

  • As a leadership team, did we have goals?
  • If so, what were they?
  • Did we meet our goals?
  • Did our attitudes and efforts reflect our goals, mission, or vision?
  • Were the members cognizant or connected to the mission or vision?
  • Did we accomplish everything we sought out to do?

Goal setting is imperative to evaluating your ministry’s success. If you did not set goals for this past year, think about goals for the upcoming year. What does God want for your group? What would you like to accomplish?

Receiving Feedback

It can be hard to hear feedback from others. It often puts us in a place of defensiveness or poor self-esteem. However, if we seek to achieve growth, gathering and receiving feedback is essential. First and foremost, we need feedback from God on what went well and what could be better because His opinion matters the most. Next, look to your leadership team—their opinions should hold a lot of weight in your mind. They are the ones that are carrying out the mission and the many duties associated with it. Plus, they are probably cool people.

Ask your team:

  • What were our victories? What went really well?
  • What made these things successful?
  • What could have gone better? What could have made these things more successful?
  • Did you feel connected to the vision or mission? Why or why not?
  • In your opinion were the members connected to the mission or vision?
  • Did you accomplish everything you wanted to and do you feel successful regarding this past year?
  • What brought your heart joy? What things were discouraging?

Your team’s attitudes and opinions are important because they may have perspectives that are different from your own. It may seem simple, but remember: “We are better together!”

Looking Ahead

Now that you’ve reflected on your journey and gathered the perspectives of your team members it is time to look ahead! Be excited! You have new opportunities coming soon and a chance to realign some things that may have gotten off track. Take some time to encourage your team and inspire excitement for the newness that a new year can bring. It is so important to go into the new year being positive—all the while reflecting on your past victories and blunders.

Ask the Lord:

  • To give you vision for the new year and strategies to support it
  • To encourage and grow your leadership team
  • For divine wisdom as to how to tackle the challenges that will arise
  • For unity amongst all members and leaders
  • For the Holy Spirit to move powerfully within your group

Recognize that God is using you in powerful ways! Take heart!—for what you do matters to those that you serve and to the Kingdom of God. Full steam ahead as they say. There are good things coming right around the corner!

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.


A Letter to the Graduate

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

Congratulations! You did it! Graduating college is a BIG deal!

I hope that you enjoyed the past four years. I hope they were filled with memories of 2 AM laughter, fast food runs and deep talks. I hope you learned that you were stronger and smarter and braver than you thought. I hope that you met people who challenged you, believed in you and grew you beyond what you could have ever imagined. I hope you met obstacles that you had to overcome, circumstances you weren’t prepared for and hardships you needed to endure. Those things made you wiser. I hope you can look back and marvel at how far you have come.

The truth is you are probably having a lot of feels right now. You are excited. You are sad. You are anxious. You are hopeful. Be prepared to experience a lot of feels in this big transition. What a lot of colleges don’t prepare you for is the, “Now what?” feeling that graduation inevitably brings.

For the past 16 years of your life, school is all you’ve known. From Kindergarten until now, you have been walking on an educational journey that has been laid out for you. You have become accustomed to a certain set of schedules and rhythms and habits. In a few short days, that chapter of your life will come to a close, and a new chapter will begin. (If you are going to Graduate school than you get to hang on just a little longer) Before you get panicky and start freaking out about being thrust into the world of #adulting, I wanted to give you some words of encouragement and advice:

You are doing better than you think

So maybe the dust from your graduation party has settled and the creeping feeling that you don’t have your stuff together is getting harder to ignore. There is a lot of pressure young adults feel to land their dream job, have a sweet internship, or plans to travel the world right after they have graduated. While that might be the case for a few, the very big majority is in the same boat you are. Before you get sucked into the comparison game, take a second to celebrate the fact you GRADUATED COLLEGE, and remember that you are doing better than you think you are. This time is for figuring stuff out, so don’t fret! P.S. Despite what they say, nobody really knows what they are doing at 22

Pursue your passion

Sorry to all the parents who I might get an eye roll from, but the truth is this is YOUR life. You decide what you will pursue and what you will pass up. I went to school to be an Elementary School Teacher and ended up loving my job as a Campus Minister. God has given you talents, gifts and passions for a reason. When your passion meets purpose, you can change the whole world. Jennifer Lee once wrote, “Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” Life is too short to get caught up in a job you loathe because it’s what makes sense. Don’t settle for less than God’s best, He has that kind of fulfilling adventure for you.

Find your people

It is no surprise that college is a very unique, lovely, and weird time in life. Never again will you live in such close community with the people you do life with on a regular basis. When you graduate, you will most likely be heading in different directions from the people you have come to know and love. It is extremely crucial in this transition to NOT be given over to blanket burritos and binge watching Netflix. That will only end up making you feel isolated and alone. Be intentional about connecting with people. If you move for a job or Grad school or are just crashing with your parents, be persistent in finding a church or young adult community that feels like home. This will feel uncomfortable at first, but finding people you can trust and do life with is extremely important in this next season.

Hustle Humbly

As twenty-somethings we sometimes forget that we are still, well, young. We have a lot to learn and a lot of life still left to live. During this season, don’t be embarrassed if you have to work a temporary job waiting tables or reconfigure your life path. Whether you are landscaping for the summer or have an opportunity to work with people in your dream field, I encourage you to work hard and work well. Character speaks volumes to the people around you. Though you might not be able to see it now, God is using your humble service to build character and prepare you for the leadership and influence you will have down the road.

Jesus First

I saved the best for last. All of this means poop if we aren’t putting Jesus first. What do I mean? I mean you can have the job, the marriage, the car, the family, and all the vacations in the world and still end up feeling empty if you don’t make knowing and loving Jesus your first priority. Matthew 16:26 continues the sentiment, “What good would it be for a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?” There will be a lot of things that will be feuding for that position in your heart. I encourage you, if there is any advice you take away at all, it is to passionately pursue Jesus with your life. Are you anxious? Are you worried about next steps? Are you confused about your future? Are you lacking purpose? Seek Jesus first and watch as He transforms your heart and your life.

That’s all I got. I speak on behalf of the entire BASIC crew when I say we are incredibly proud of you. We are thankful that we got to spend your college years with you and pray that you continue to walk in the fulness of what God has for you! Go get em tiger!

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.

How To Hear God's Voice

How To Hear God’s Voice

Chris Zeigler Advisors & Student Leaders, Personal Development 0 Comments

Summer is almost here and I can’t wait. I’m looking forward to warm temperatures, wearing shorts and flip flops, exploring new places and hitting the beach. Another big reason that I look forward to the summer is because for those of us in college ministry, things usually slow down a little bit and I can spend more time with God. Don’t get me wrong, there can still be quite a few commitments, but I often find that the summer is a great opportunity to set aside more time and focus on my relationship with Him.

Too often I find myself so consumed with activity that I don’t take the time I should to develop my relationship with God. King David was known as someone who was close to God. He was known as someone who spent time in God’s presence regularly and yet this is what he said in one of the psalms, “God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this dry and weary land where there is no water.” Even David knew that he had to set aside time to earnestly seek God.

There’s many ways to grow in your relationship with God. You could spend more time reading the Bible, in worship or reading books. But one way I’ve grown closer to God that has really been a blessing is learning how to better hear His voice through prayer. In our lives prayer is the grease that makes the engine go. Going through life without prayer is like driving a car without putting oil in. You won’t get nearly as far as you could.

James wrote in the Bible that, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Making space in your routine for a daily prayer time is really important and beneficial. If you don’t do this already then try starting with a reasonable goal like praying for five minutes. Once you’ve established a routine you can always increase the amount of time you spend each day.

I would suggest picking a time that you’re normally alert and don’t tend to have many other commitments. Think about a time you would normally spend mindlessly scrolling through social media or watching a TV show. Then put your phone on do not disturb so you’re not distracted. If you’re really having trouble remembering to do it put a daily reminder in your phone or determine that you won’t do something else you would never skip (like showering or eating dinner) until you’ve done your prayer time.

As you actively spend more time in prayer, eventually you can learn to hear God’s voice. It’s just like when you’ve spent a lot of time with a friend. I know my wife’s voice so well that I don’t need to look at caller ID when she calls, when I hear her voice I know that it’s her. And over time you’ll begin to know the voice of God through prayer.

It’s very rare that someone hears the voice of God in an audible way, but it can happen. Usually it sounds more like a thought within your head. Often you’ll find yourself questioning if what you just heard was your own thought or God speaking.

It takes time to determine which it is, but it’s helpful that God has given us the Bible to help us test what we’re hearing and determine if it’s from God or not. Anything that we think may be the voice of God must first align with what the Scriptures say. This is why it’s important to be reading and studying the Bible regularly so that you can go back and determine if something you’re hearing makes sense with what God’s Word says.

God has spoken some incredible things to me throughout my life. Some of the things I’ve heard Him say have been absolutely life changing. But it’s taken years of seeking God in prayer and through reading the Bible for me to clearly understand when I’m hearing God’s voice and when I’m just thinking my own thoughts. There are still times that I don’t always get it right, but for the most part I’ve learned to distinguish between the two.

It’s not easy or able to be explained in a five step process, but it is worth the time and effort to get to know God’s voice. You can grow in determining God’s voice through regular practice. Set aside time to be still, focus on Him and wait to hear His voice.

In a world where we’re used to filling every free moment by looking at Facebook or playing a game on our phones (guilty as charged) this will be incredibly difficult at first. But over time you can train your mind to focus and be quiet. God has so many things that He wants to tell you if you’ll take the time to listen. Tell God that you’re coming to Him because you want to hear His voice. This is what King David was doing when he said, “Earnestly I seek You.” And God will be so delighted when you do this because He longs to spend time with you.

Praying with a friend can also help you practice hearing God’s voice. I have a friend who I regularly pray with and when we pray we take the majority of our time to listen for God’s voice and then we share with each other what we heard. This might sound strange to you, but I’ve found that this practice has really helped me learn to hear God’s voice better. There are many times that God gives us words to share with one another.

Over the years I’ve shared words with him that have most likely been my thoughts more than God’s words, and I’m sure he could say the same, but as we’ve continued to lean into God and listen for His voice we’ve gotten better at discerning when it’s Him speaking and when it’s just us. And as the years have gone by we’ve seen words that we’ve given each other come to pass. When you see that happen, then you can confidently say that you’ve heard God’s voice and it strengthens your desire even more to keep listening for what He wants to say to you.

Even though there’s been times I’ve gotten it wrong, I don’t give up listening because I want to be someone who hears God. But this is not something to take lightly either. We have to be very careful with any word we share with others that we believe God has given us. Because our words are incredibly powerful and can have a big influence in the lives of others.

When you want to grow in hearing God’s voice it’s best to submit what you’re hearing to leaders in your life. Ask them what they think before you take it to heart or share it with another person. And remember that the Bible says anything God speaks to us for sharing with others will always be for strengthening, encouragement and comfort. If it doesn’t fit in one of those categories, it isn’t God.

When you devote some time each day to draw closer to God you’ll experience what David did. David had discovered that spending time with God was the greatest thing he could do in life. In fact, he considered it even better than life when he said, “God, your unfailing love is better than life itself. You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy.”

I hope you can start setting aside time this summer to seek God in prayer and I know that as you practice hearing His voice He will speak to you and encourage you. Have a great summer!

About the Author

Chris Zeigler


Chris Zeigler is the Assistant Director of BASIC. He was a student leader with BASIC at the SUNY Oswego campus and has never lost his heart for college students since then. He and his wife, Cheryl, have started BASIC groups at three colleges in NY. Outside of work you can hear him talking about his reluctant love for the Oakland Raiders, see him using his iPhone to get "the perfect shot" to feed his love for photography and playing with his adorable kids.