outcomes and a good Draft season

Yesterday, I drew comparisons between this week’s NFL Draft and what kind of students we’re producing on a yearly basis. Connected to that, I wanted to offer a vital reminder from a couple of ideas I’ve posted before…

As another school year ends, we each have the chance to wonder what we’ve created. Our “products” (our students) are being released into the wild upon graduation. Yes, they’re ultimately God’s “products,” but we’re co-laboring, working to shepherd and disciple and, in that sense, “create.”

Are these students going to be excellent employees who function in any field Christianly? Will they be awesome grad students? Will they “do the work of an evangelist” wherever God places them? Will they be superior spouses and wonderful parents? Will they be justice-doers, mercy-lovers, humble God followers?

The next five years WILL reflect the quality of this past year of college ministry, whether we like that fact or not.

That is a humbling thought. What our ministry is “producing” has yet to be seen, but it provides the best evaluation we’ve got.

And now, we have to decide that this statement will, in turn, radically affect the way we set goals for each year.

When I did a nationwide review of ten Chi Alpha ministries for their national office, I remember one of their collegiate ministers – a “lifer” whose ministry at North Dakota State had a longtime impact – shared this in stark terms. As I wrote in the resulting book Chi Alpha on Campus,

[Brad Lewis] recognizes that students’ continued spiritual success after graduation will prove the worth of their campus ministry experience. He expressed the hope to call FM Chi Alpha alumni five years after graduation and “find them serving or volunteering … in a Spirit-filled church, married to a godly spouse, raising godly kids, with their finances in order, affecting both their workplace and their neighborhood for Jesus.”

For that ministry, those goals prove that they’ve hit (or missed) their particular goals. I remember sitting in Brad’s office that day when he brought up the idea, unprompted by me, that their ministry’s success (or failure) would be judged by a telephone call five years later. And it was what he said next that made that idea a little more concrete:

“When you have that target to shoot at, it tells you what you need to be instilling in people’s lives now,” Brad explained.

That’s the kicker, right? We have to make those long-term targets explicit, and then we have to translate them into aims we carry out each year. That’s how we end up with a good Draft season, year after year.

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