Wednesday, May 12, 2010

More Than the Grade On Your Paper

One of the things I love most about working on a college campus is the cyclical nature of the year.  Twice a year we journey through a 16-week semester (or 3 quarters - shouldn't we call these trimesters?) before taking a few months to recover from one year, while also preparing for the next.

Regardless of how the previous year has been, the upcoming year will be filled with its own set of challenges and opportunities, failures and successes.

I'm in the middle of grading final exams for my Old Testament class.  Before we took the test last Friday I said to them the same thing I've said to them before every exam that they took:

You are more than a grade on a piece of paper.

I think they think I'm being patronizing... but I'm not.  I really believe it and want them to believe it too... especially as some of them are totally stressing out.

As I assess my students work and what they did, or did not learn, over the course of our semester together; I begin to think of my (our) work on campus and my (our) ongoing need to have an accurate understanding of:

  1. where we're at,
  2. how we are doing, and 
  3. where we need to go from here.
I posted some thoughts on assessment at the end of the fall semester entitled A Campus Ministry Final Exam - I encourage you to check it out and share your insights!

My greater desire today, however, is to remind each of us doing the hard work of serving college students that:

we are 'more than the grade at the top of the paper'... our value and worth is so much more than the current state of our ministry.

Do you know that?  Do you believe that?  Do you ever struggle to recognize that who you are as a person is not defined by how much fruit you are seeing in your ministry?  That God loves you for who you are and not what you do...

As you wrap up your academic/ministry year, and [hopefully] engage in some essential assessment of your work and ministry, be reminded [finger pointing at myself in the mirror] that you are more than what you do - more than what you can accomplish - and God has called you to this important work.

Whether our end-of-the-year assessment yields the kind of 'grade' that we ultimately desire, or not, we must remember that God is not finished - with us or our ministry context - and we've got a few months now to rest up, study up, pray up and prepare before students return and a new season of life, relationships and ministry begins.

It's one of so many reasons I love serving in college ministry!

I'd love to know what you think!  Share your thoughts, comments and experiences in the comment section below.

Grace and peace.

[Take this week's poll in the sidebar :: What's your biggest challenge with the summer break?]