Staying the Course

The school year starts with such a bang of excitement. There are so many new people, so many new things going on, and the possibilities of new directions in a ministry seem limitless. Sometimes August and September create impossible expectations for what we hope to see this year in our ministry.

Then comes October...CRASH!!! How quickly we forget that we are on a college campus ministering to adolescent college students. Tests come, commitments get dropped, people disappear, and stress becomes the name of the game. At this point the natural inclination is to panic and think that something drastic must be done to fix everything that has fallen apart in the past month. Reacting becomes a very easy thing to do, pouring out the guilt trips, removing flaky people from leadership positions, etc...basically it's easy to do anything and everything but the hard thing - stay the course by pastoring people.

When the semester seems to unravel, we must stay the course. The engine of our ministry is not a program, which can fall apart; rather what drives the ministry are the principles of the Gospel - namely Justification (what Jesus did), Sanctification (what Jesus is doing), and Glorification (what Jesus will do), which never fall apart. These realities are alive and change the hearts of college students, no matter if things are going well or falling apart on campus. We must stay the course and keep preaching, pastoring, and counseling these principles to students. Reacting to how things are going is always an unwise pastoral move because it is a failure to rely on the principles of the Gospel. If something on campus is falling apart, the answer is to go back to the principles with that student, help them understand the fullness of Jesus and how he actively heals and changes where they are failing.

The myth of ministry is that you can control what will happen in a semester (if you work harder, if you follow up more, if you train better, if you hold people more accountable). Sure some of those things are good to consider, but above all we can't control what happens in a semester. Thankfully God is at work, in control of this campus, and using his Spirit to apply the principles of the Gospel to change a campus that is falling apart. Knowing that, we must not react but stay the course.

Alex Watlington, Campus Minister at Penn State
November 5, 2013 • 610-691-0988 • 631 Fourth Avenue, Bethlehem, PA 18018