Goodbye to the Big Guy

Goodbye to the Big Guy

Sam DiStefano Advisors & Student Leaders, BASIC Crew 0 Comments

I’m writing this letter as I sit at my desk in the BASIC office. Though I have known about the transition for months, we are now in the final countdown of Jonathan Burgio’s last days as Director of BASIC College Ministries.

Many of you know Jon from visits to your campus and on stage at BASICCON. You might have been impacted by a word he spoke or a conversation you had with him. He has a way of making you feel valuable and seen and heard. I have had the privilege and honor of working with him for the past three years and I wanted you to get an inside look and the kind of leader he was by sharing my personal letter with him.

Dear Jonathan-

Words cannot express how much I will miss you and Nicki. My time working with you both has deeply impacted me. I wanted to take time to thank you.

Thank you for being a man of character.

They say you can judge someone’s character by who they are when no one is watching. A lot of people look up to you and see you from the stage but I have had the chance to see how you roll in the in between moments of life. The moments when things don’t go as planned. Things like certain people flying into the wrong airport (so sorry about that one), Sprinter tire blowouts on the way to conferences, lighting consoles refusing to work, and missing passports on missions trips.

In every circumstance you hold true to who you are. You are a man who loves God and loves people to the very core. It’s just your nature. Whether you are talking to the students, volunteers, or the well known speakers and artists flying from across the country, you treat everyone with respect and kindness. You are patient. You are understanding. You are gentle. You make people feel comfortable in your presence. You are a man of integrity and it’s clear to everyone who knows you.

Thank you for being a servant leader.

You and Nicki both embody this in a way I have never seen before. You will gladly and willingly go out of your way to serve your staff and the students of BASIC. There are almost endless examples.

How many times have you and Nicki took your personal time to do tasks for BASIC? How many late nights have you stayed at the office? How many hours figuring out things for us that weren’t really your responsibility? How many times have you went out of your way to plan something special for the staff? How many phone calls have you made to ensure that we would be taken care of? How many emails sent to make sure groups felt supported? How many times have you given up sleep for us? How many times have you given up what you wanted for our sake?

Too many times to count. You have always made us feel taken care of and fought for.

Thank you for adding value.

There is a quote by John Quincy Adams that says, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” I don’t think a quote could better describe who you are. You add value to people by making them feel important and inspiring them to be better. You consistently ask questions and make suggestions that have helped me change perspective and walk in the fullness of what God has for me. That’s what you do for EVERYONE. You help them be the best they can be.

One of my favorite lessons from you is the value of thanking people. I watched for three years as you took the time to write notes, make phone calls, and have meetings to communicate to supporters, volunteers and friends that you were thankful for them. Because of your example of pointing out value in others, you have added incredible value to mine.

Thank you for being generous and kind.

You are generous in every way. Generous with your time, generous with your finances, generous with your care. I am floored when I look back at the times you and Nicki have been patient to listen, set aside time to hear me out, have treated me to coffee and lunch, and have somehow always gifted me with cards or presents exactly when I needed them most. Your care is over the top (you could say extravagant even haha) and your kindness has meant more than words could ever express.

Thank you for believing in me.

Probably most of all, I have been impacted by your unwavering belief in me. You boldly speak life over me when I feel insecure or afraid. Your confidence in me makes me brave. Your overwhelming support has made me feel comfortable to try new things and grow into leadership roles I never thought I was capable of. I always felt safe in the knowledge that you were for me and you would do anything to help me be the best me I could be. Thank you for being the kind of leader that people dream of working with.

My time as your co-worker has changed me for the better. I am so incredibly thankful for your character, example, and hard work. I could say so much more, but I will leave it at that. Nicki got you that “World’s Best Boss” mug before your first day as Director four years ago and you have been living up to it every day since. On behalf of the entire BASIC network and crew, we’ll miss you, we love you, and we thank you for a job well done.


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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.