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In January 2020, I left a college ministry I loved to plant a new church in San Marcos, home of Texas State University. We moved with people, plans and a purpose that felt unstoppable, and the first two months went just like we had dreamed. Then COVID-19 hit. Then it felt like the nation was splitting in two. Then students were gone for an indefinite amount of time. Then our plans were gone. Some of our people were gone. We were shocked and honestly at times felt overcome by despair and confusion.

But our purpose was never rooted in people or plans. It was rooted in a calling from God to multiply disciples who multiply disciples. It was never to simply start a worship gathering, but instead to be a people who fixed our eyes on Jesus and sought to follow him with all of our lives.

Collegiate leader, the one thing you cannot stop doing is looking to Jesus. I received a text around the launch of the semester from a good friend of mine asking, “So, at Roundup next year can we include how to do welcome week in a hurricane?” Not only was welcome week shifted because of COVID-19 but then their school was shut down in preparation for an incoming hurricane.

If 2020 has shown us anything, it’s that our plans are here today and gone tomorrow, but who we are is constant. The people we are will be defined by where we fix our eyes. Are our eyes on Jesus or on the constantly shifting landscape of ministry?

Here’s why this matters:

  • Your students are constantly watching how you respond to adversity.
  • Your faithfulness to keep your eyes on Jesus will directly impact how your student leaders choose to lead other students.
  • Your staff team, family and co-laborers are watching to see where your hope is coming from.
  • Fixing your eyes on Jesus will stabilize you, rather than chasing the next strategy or ministry proposal.
  • Fixing your eyes on Jesus will remind you that Jesus doesn’t love you because of how many freshmen you reach or how much momentum you have.

The temptation to take your eyes of Jesus may be more felt than ever before because there is so much felt chaos around us. If we are going to have ministries marked by a healthy multiplication of disciples of Jesus, we simply cannot afford to take our eyes off of the Lord of the Harvest. It’s his harvest, not ours.

Here are some ways I am trying to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus:

  • Begin my days with quietly enjoying the presence of God. The goal is not to get through a certain amount of Scripture or completely fill up my prayer journal, but instead to simply be quiet and know that God is God and I am his kid. He’s in charge. I am not.
  • Spend regular time with people who aren’t looking to me to perform for them. I am beyond grateful for our staff team and how we are daily fighting for a meaningful plurality of leadership so that I am not THE pastor of our church, but simply another member of the body that functions in certain ways.
  • Have regular time where I am not doing for Jesus but just being with Jesus and those that love me well.

What are some ways that have been helpful for you to stay focused on what matters most?