When I was a teacher it was all about numbers. CST scores, students in the classroom, grades, averages, percentages, etc. It didn't matter that I taught English, my job was about really numbers. Did I meet the quota for students to pass this particular test? How many students are receiving failing grades? What is the average test grade in the class? If students performed this well on the test, what percent was likely to pass the CST? What is the optimal number of students per classroom to achieve the highest grade potential? Numbers. Numbers. Numbers.

When I started InterVarsity staff I hoped to leave the focus on numbers behind. I knew I would be working with goals but I also knew InterVarsity is a relational ministry. I knew goals could not be avoided and I didn't have a problem working with numbers and goals. I just didn't realize how much my identity was still tied up in reaching goals until we started NSO (New Student Outreach).

As we geared up to start meeting new students, our goal was 300 contact cards. We want to follow up in person with just about 1/3 of them and hopefully get 15-25 new students to join the fellowship. These were difficult goals that required a lot of hard work. Quickly I realized my identity was becoming entrenched in achieving goals after our first tabling event, PJ Jam in the dorms. We walked away with about 50 cards and I walked away disappointed. I was more than disappointed, I was frustrated, I was overwhelmed, I was even a bit angry at myself for not planning well. I felt so unprepared to go into the year - how would ever get 300 contact cards if at our single tabling event, we could get barely 50? I felt as if my poor leadership was going to send us into failure for these goals.

My identity was tied up in numbers and not in Jesus.

Our goals were to give focus and direction to our vision but they are not the vision. I had temporarily lost sight of our fellowship's vision to build a multi-ethnic community that shares the love of God with all 39,000 students at CSUN. I had forgotten each of those contact cards represented a person God loves so very much and not only was he already working in their lives, but through reaching out to them, God would be working in my life.

God taught me this week my identity should not tied up in reaching goals. It's surprising how much God has been teaching me about my identity and how God has more in mind for me than even I realize. As a 25 year old I can have a good handle on my identity, especially having been involved with InterVarsity for the past 7 years. I know the passages, I know the processes, but sometimes I forget and put my identity back in these places of performance and perfection.

We can easily swing to extremes - either placing our full identity in performance and goals so that we miss the very people and relationships God wants us to build. Or fearing we will do that we forget about plans and structures, saying it is only about building relationships. God wants us to do BOTH. Both, always both. In book of Nehemiah we see a man who is motivated by a brokenness in his people. He sees the hurt, the destruction, even the sin and cries out to God and laments. He feels the weight of their exile and longs to bring restoration. But he has a plan. He has forms and structures and numbers and goals to get the job done but he was motivated by his relationships.

Can we do both as live our lives of ministry? Can we be both motivated by God, relationships, and by goals and numbers? Yes, only though if our identity is wrapped up in Jesus. Only if our ultimate identity comes, not from if we reached the quota or the goal, but as a son or daughter of the king most high. And I think God is really preparing my heart for our Who Will You Be outreach campaign where we will talk about spirituality and identity. I see what you are doing there Jesus.

On a side note - I should mention  last year we got a total of 66 contacts at the end of the first two weeks of school. And after the first two days of school we already have 73 contacts!


Skinny Love

Most of my new favorite songs of the recent weeks have come because they were on So You Think You Can Dance. One of the artists that has had two songs appear on the show is Birdy. For being a fan of singer/songwriter music I can't believe I had never heard of her until now. I like her music because it focuses on simplicity which makes the few instruments used stand out (including her voice, which has an ethereal quality to it) as well as the lyrics.

No to mention both performances were profoundly moving:

The District Sleeps (dance by Aaron and Jasmine)

Skinny Love (dance by Fic-Shun and Alison)


Team LA

I am so excited to be a part of this area team! This is a major answer to prayer for my InterVarsity staff life. Last year, CSUN was without an area and now we are together with the established campuses of USC, UCLA, Oxy, and PCC but we are taking ownership of all the campuses that are in the Los Angeles/San Gabriel Valley/San Fernando Valley vicinity.

Look at those pretty faces - and that isn't even all of us.


No Pants

This is a part of my family stories recording for my 25 in 25 post:

Growing up my family would camping about 2-3 times a year. Our favorite spots were Dohney Beach near Laguna Hills and Yosemite National Park. Every August we would travel to Yosemite to spend a week hiking, reading, and watching the sun set in the meadow. One of my mother's favorite hike was up the Toloumne River, where we would hike for about a mile, stop by a bridge, eat our snacks and if we were brave enough we'd put our feet in the water.

On one such time up the river, around when I was 10 or 11, I became a little more adventurous. I wanted to walk across the river, prove that I was adult enough to make it across without getting wet.

Of course I wasn't. Not only did I get my shorts wet, I managed to slip on the rocks and sit butt first down in the river. I was soaked up to my waist and had a mile to hike back to the camp sight. I cried in tears at the thought of walking back in wet pants so my mother went running down the trail to get me a new pair. Unfortunately, I had significantly calmed down by the time she returned, and even managed to start heading back on the trail.

To this day my mom never lets me forget the fact that I fell in the river, and even as a 25 year, I will wade in the water and she will still tell me to be careful. And that she is not heading back to get me new pants if I get wet - that is how I will have to walk back. Fortunately I haven't fallen in since.