Fresh Eyes

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 Sara Meier.

Hi, friends! My name is Sara. I spent five years as a member, servant, and leader of The College of Saint Rose BASIC group (Shout out to my #StroseBASIC babes!) and it completely changed my life. Now, I’m a newlywed and a post-grad speech-language pathologist in an elementary school setting for students who are deaf. I love coffee, all things Disney, flowers, lipstick, crepes and macarons, and of course, college ministry. I’m potentially one of the girliest girls you’ll ever meet, but at the same time I’m constantly seeking adventure. I mean – my husband and I spent a portion of our honeymoon zip lining through the rainforest and traipsing through an active volcano. Since we got married, we’ve experienced a lot of change and transition in both jobs and location, and most recently moved back to my hometown.

When you get used to a place, it’s easy to become complacent and lose grip of the vision you once had not only for the area as a whole, but the people too. Maybe this resonates with you as you think about your hometown, your college campus, or even your BASIC group.

While there are definite benefits to moving back to my hometown (like being close to my family again), I worried that I would become complacent and begin to feel stuck. Like I said, I’m an adventurer at heart, and I was concerned that my familiarity with the area and the people would cloud my vision and block my ability to serve the kingdom of God the way He has called me to. Do you ever feel like this on your college campus? Maybe you’re stuck in a routine and bored with the day-to-day of simply going to class, seeing the same faces, doing your homework, and repeating it all the next morning.

I know your deeds; you are neither cold nor hot. How I wish you were one or the other. So because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth! Revelation 3:15-16

The last thing I ever want to be is lukewarm. The weekend right before we moved, I was driving through town and “Fresh Eyes” by Andy Grammer began playing on the radio. How many people know that God can speak to you through literally anything – including a semi-secular song? He’ll do whatever He can to get through to us, and I am thankful for that. This song is essentially about finding new ways to appreciate your spouse in order to continue looking at him or her with fresh eyes, but as I listened to the song, I began interpreting it in a new way. As I drove through the area I once called home and soon would again, God began speaking to me about looking at this little city with fresh eyes, and I began praying and pleading for a new vision. Boredom produces complacency (lukewarmness) and prevents vision; but fervently attending to (in other words, praying for) your passion protects it.

I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:1-2

Jesus has called each one of us to a life greater than we can imagine. Live your life worthy of that call, not distracted by what isn’t happening or where you’d rather be, but fully planted in the hope of Christ: for your life, for your friends, for your campus, and for the area you have been called to live and prosper in.

If you’re feeling complacent and in search of how to gain some fresh eyes, here are three points that have personally helped me begin to conquer any obstructions to my vision:

Change your attitude

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

I know you’ve heard it before, but it’s SO important to have an attitude of gratitude, and sometimes when life gets busy or stressful it’s hard to maintain a positive attitude if you’re not intentional about it. Maybe you have a big exam coming up, your parents have recently gotten divorced, you are struggling to find where you fit in on campus, or you’re not getting along particularly well with one of your professors. These things tend to place a lens of negativity over the way we look at the rest of the world. But let me tell you something, friends – even on the worst day, we still have the greatest God!

One thing that I find really helpful when I’m trying to change my attitude is to keep a gratitude journal. At the end of each day, I like to write down at least one thing that I’m thankful for. You’d be surprised how uplifting it can be when you look for something positive in each day, even though some days you might have to look a little harder.

If you really want to challenge yourself, try to choose at least one thing that you’re grateful for about your campus (or any other situation that’s blurring your vision). For me, one of the greatest obstacles to my vision is the familiarity and complacency of the area I’m in, so one thing I’m thankful for is the new businesses that are popping up around the area that are ran by local Christians – one of which I am actually writing this blog in (Shout out to Character Coffee)!

Have the courage to turn away from everything that doesn’t feed your soul

Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Hebrews 10:23

One of my favorite worship songs is “Take Courage” by Kristine DiMarco. The verse that says, “Sing praise my soul, find strength in joy, let His words lead you on. Do not forget His great faithfulness. He’ll finish all He’s begun” is spot on. Your thoughts shape your vision, friends.

If you are hanging around people with a lack of motivation or vision for your campus, it’s going to rub off on you. Try chatting with people who make you see the world differently, brighter, because you see what you choose to see. This actually ties back to the first point about choosing gratitude because your perspective is paving the way for your future experiences. If you have an ungrateful heart, and spend your time thinking negatively about your campus, you’re not going to be able to share God’s great vision; but if you alter your focus and persistently pursue the purpose God has given you on your campus, you’re going to explode with vision and the dreams you pray to see will come to pass.

Create a vision that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:33

Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, but happy is he who keeps the law. Proverbs 29:18

Do you have a desire to see your BASIC group grow? Do you want to reach those students who don’t yet know Jesus? So does God. Give Him control of your vision, and He’ll provide you with the excited ambition to recharge and fuel your vision that you and I are so desperately in search of. You might be thinking, “Girl, it’s way easier said than done.” I know, but the word of God has a way of changing things that you have no idea where to even begin to start with. It helps you look forward with hope as opposed to backwards with regret. Make it a regular part of your life, and you’ll be on your way to chasing your vision out the door in the morning because of pure excitement and exhilaration for the things of God. It may not come easy, but it sure stays worth it.

I pray that your 2018 is filled with happiness and sunshine, but even deeper than that, I pray that it’s filled with fresh eyes because of a passion driven purpose. Thank you Jesus for imparting your boldness, your grace and your vision into the hearts of every college student that desires to serve you. I ask you to remove all blindfolds of complacency and replace them with fresh eyes and dreams beyond their wildest dreams. In Jesus’ mighty and loving name… Amen!

Cheers to intentionally seeking fresh eyes together in 2018!

 

About the Author

Sam DiStefano

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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

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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 with the group as a co-adviser.

Managing Momentum

Managing Momentum

Ryan Raflowski Advisors & Student Leaders, Leadership, Planning, Resources 0 Comments

Momentum is one of the most valuable forces in any organization. When you have individuals within who are connecting to your organizational vision and mission—then there is likely real movement happening. When you combine fervent prayer, the power of the Holy Spirit, and some good ole fashion momentum—even better!

Merriam Webster Dictionary defines momentum as a “strength or force gained by motion or by a series of events.” Ultimately, momentum is powerful. Imagine yourself standing at the top of a hill with a ball at your foot. With one small kick you can send the ball rolling down the hill, quickly gaining momentum. Suddenly, the ball is rolling faster and faster—with only a small amount of energy exerted. Now imagine standing at the bottom of this hill, trying to kick the ball upwards. You kick the ball upward only to have it continuously rolling back down again. You are now exerting tons of energy to try and get this ball up the hill—seemingly pointless.

In ministry, there are times when things seem to be going well and your efforts are easily met with reward. Then, there are other times where your efforts are met with resistance. Your actions and good intentions are like that ball rolling back down the hill over and over again. We want our ministries to make the best from momentum because it is the key to success. Let’s take a look at the three ways to manage momentum within your ministry.

Creating It

It makes sense that you have to build momentum in order to manage it. How do we build momentum in our ministry? Well, it is not always as easy as giving the ball a small nudge down the hill. Oftentimes, we may have to push a heavy stone ball inch by inch until momentum occurs.

Perhaps this manifests by continuously casting vision over your group. It isn’t uncommon for progress to be slow when sharing vision. Some members may not understand the vision or know how to practically latch onto it. One way to persevere through these challenges is to continue to share the vision. Our humanity often requires repetition for real change to happen.

You may wish to consider making the vision less ambiguous by providing practical ways your members can participate in the organizational vision. For example, if your group’s vision is to improve outreach then you should consider having a “Bring a Friend Along” night to give members a structured opportunity to practice living out the vision.

Lastly, it’s important to note that perseverance is key when trying to build momentum. Keep pushing that big boulder—with confidence that God is guiding you and directing you.

Maintaining It

How do you keep momentum going once you have it? It’s a good question, and the answer is passion. While all of our ministry work shouldn’t be driven by emotions, feelings of excitement can really break through the mundane. It’s important to note that, at this point, some individuals will have connected with the ministry’s vision. However, we must continue to cast and recast the vision over and over again to keep people inspired throughout the routines of ministry.

It’s easy to instill passion at the starting line of a race. It is harder to do this when runners are in the middle of a course. Continue to find ways to bring clarity and practicality to the group vision. As the group leader, it is also important to look at what your group members are currently passionate about. Is there a way to steer their current excitement towards the direction you feel the group should go?

Guiding It

By this point, the ball is rolling and you may be thinking “Thank God!” Remember that momentum is powerful, and if that ball hits a pebble or a groove it can easily get off track. The main point here is focus. You will want to create sturdy tracks to guide momentum and prevent wasting of momentum.

Wasted momentum refers to those well-intentioned, flashy, time-consuming projects or events that we often spend our organization’s energy and resources on, which unfortunately do little to accomplish the mission. Sure, it may feel like a great idea and energy well spent but does it bear good fruit? Does it move people towards the desired destination?

We need to create tracks or safeguards that guide our ministry. These tracks should pinpoint members to the mission and should fulfill the group’s purpose. It is the job of the leader to develop well-defined boundaries that keep the ministry moving along in the right direction.

Momentum can be stagnated by poor decisions, changes in leadership, or resistance from members. It is best to observe that things happen and we can oftentimes plan ahead for them. Take a second right now to observe what your group’s mission may be. If you don’t have a mission or vision, seek one out from the Lord! Then, find ways to develop momentum and guide your ministry towards achieving its purpose!

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.