Tryphena Ramcharitar

About Tryphena Ramcharitar

I'm a 22 year old girl on a never ending adventure with my God. I'm a senior at the Nyack College Manhattan Campus where I major in psychology, work in the Writing Center, and serve as President of the Student Government Association. On the rare occasion that I'm not in school, I love to play the drums, play video games, serve in the drama team at my church, and hang out with friends and family.

Nyack’s Day of Service: What Jesus Would Do

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In my last blog, I spoke about the Luis Palau Association’s CityServe movement, which seeks to proclaim the gospel throughout our great New York City with one simple task: service.

We as Christians have gotten very creative in our attempts to share the good news of Christ with others. We have outdoor crusades to draw crowds, preach to subway passengers during the morning commute, slip tracts through our neighbor’s fences (and in the candy bags on Halloween—you know you’ve seen it happen), and integrate ourselves into mainstream media in the hopes that the world will pay attention. And while our efforts have been noble and our intentions pure, somehow only 6% of New Yorkers consider themselves Christians, according to Forbes magazine. Clearly we’re not doing something right.

CTA button for Blog UGAnd that’s where the Luis Palau Association comes in. They realized that of all the crazy things we endeavor in an effort to spread the good news of Christ, we may, ironically, be forgetting to ask ourselves the one question we’ve been trained to ask: what would Jesus do?

Jesus didn’t knock on doors at 7am. He didn’t hand out pamphlets. He didn’t condemn sinners.

He came to serve. And we should do the same.

So on March 28, over 200 Nyackers from each campus invaded every borough of New York City and spent the day working in homeless shelters, parks, and childhood centers as a part of the CityServe movement.

Students braved the cold to clean a children's playground

Students braved the cold to clean a children’s playground

We cleaned, we painted, we repacked and restocked, we laughed, we played, we served. And through our service we embodied the heart of Christ and displayed it to those around us.

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Students repainting the Salvation Army center in Brooklyn

Students repainting the Salvation Army center in Brooklyn

At the end of the day, its not our words that will bring people to the foot of the cross. It’s our actions. Let our Day of Service become a lifestyle of service, and rather than spending our energy attempting to spread the gospel in ways that have so far seemed rather ineffective. Let’s show others the love of Christ. Let’s help those in need. Let’s sacrifice our time and even our money to reach out to those who need it more than we do.  Let’s serve our city. It’s what Jesus would do.

Matthew 5:16: “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

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CityServe: Sharing the Whole Gospel with the Whole World

In a sermon last semester, I shared my desire for Nyack College to share the gospel throughout New York City (you can read more about that nervous breakdown here). Jesus gave us one final command before leaving this earth: go and make disciples of all nations.

And honestly? We’re having a hard time following that.

New York City holds 80 million people representing every country in the world (speaking of all nations) in its boundaries. Forbes magazine calls New York City the most influential city in the entire world, and it just so happens that God placed a Christian college (not to mention the other 6,000 churches in the NYC area) in the center of it all. Yet for some reason, only 6% of our population consider themselves Christians. Maybe it’s time we started changing our strategy.

Thankfully, the Luis Palau Association is way ahead of us.

On January 30th we were privileged to hear from Andrew Palau, son of Luis Palau and a cornerstone member of the CityServe movement. CityServe is, in their own words, a “Gospel-driven movement that identifies, develops, and nurtures church-connected, neighborhood-focused collaborations throughout the boroughs of NYC in the areas of justice, mercy, and education.”

Andrew Palau (second to right on the top) and the team from Nyack College NYC

Andrew Palau (second to right on the top) and the team from Nyack College NYC

Basically, they’re attacking New York City with the gospel.

What makes CityServe different from all other gospel oriented organizations is that they realize that they cannot do the work themselves, nor were they meant to. 1 Corinthians 12 shows us that we are one body. That means regardless of race, age, denomination, free will or predestination believer, Mets or Yankees fan, we are part of the same team, and as such need to work together for our common purpose: spreading the love of the Father. Jesus himself said that all men would know that we are his disciples through our love for one another. What better way to show than to work together and serve our community?

CTA button for Blog UGWith this in mind, CityServe is partnering with various churches and organizations across the city to work together and shower the Big Apple with the love of Christ through service, concerts, and more.

And Nyack College has decided to join in on the fun too.

Think of the potential impact we can have! If what happens here echoes through the entire planet, what would happen if all the churches of New York City and all of Nyack College combined forces with the Luis Palau Association through CityServe and started shouting out the love of Jesus Christ? How long would it take before the whole world heard the gospel?

Probably about a New York minute.

Luis Palau (third from the left in the bottom row) with some of the Nyack volunteers at a Re:New concert on February 12

If you’re excited about seeing God move in this city and serving others through love, then CityServe is just for you. Here are some of their upcoming events:

March 13-15: For This City, (CityFest) youth gatherings with Andrew Palau, Jesus Culture, Chris Durso, and Daniel Sanabria.

March 28: CityServe: A day of service where students, faculty, and staff of Nyack College will paint homeless shelters and schools at two sites in each of the five boroughs of New York City.

July 11: Central Park, The Great Lawn: A celebration of all that was accomplished through NY CityServe & CityFest

Check out their website to find out more about how you can volunteer and serve our city with them, and join us on March 28 as we partner with them to reach our city. Let’s do as Jesus told us to do, and as Nyack College was meant to do—bring the whole gospel to the whole world.

Confessions of An Almost Graduate

Finally.

After four and a half long years of classes, papers, all-nighters, and gallons of coffee, the final semester of my undergraduate career at Nyack College is here, and the countdown to graduation has begun.  Never has a first day of classes been more exciting. I wore a bright smile on my face as I walked through the halls of the Nyack College Manhattan Campus.

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This is my last semester, I thought. Today’s my last first day of classes, last time going over the syllabus, last everything!

And then I stopped dead in my tracks, my heart stopping with me.

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This was my last everything.

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Cue waves of nostalgia.

It was then that it really hit that I was graduating. As in leaving.  No more hanging out in the lounge, no more planning events, no more working for the Writing Center, no more Student Government, no more free printing…

No more Nyack.

Of course no one else knew of this internal dilemma. All everyone saw was the elated senior who couldn’t wait to grab her degree and run free. My heart, however, told a different story.

I would miss my school.

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I consider Nyack College to be the place where I grew up. I came into Nyack in 2010 as an insecure 18 year old girl who had barely scraped by in high school. I had little to no friends and even less self-esteem. My relationship with God was one big question mark. Five years at Nyack, however, radically transformed me. The classes, the environment, and the opportunities available here stretched me and molded me into a woman I never imagined I could be. I’ve become a leader and an excelling student. I’m confident in myself and in my God, and I have true, loyal friends who will stick with me even after this Nyack journey ends. Nyack has become my safe haven, my place of comfort and growth, and I’m not sure what I’m going to do once I leave.

But I do know what I’m going to do now: I’m going to cherish it.

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This chapter might be almost over, but I’m going to savor each page until it ends. I’m going to take as much as Nyack can give me, talk to as many people as I can, leave a lasting impact in as many ways as I can, and have as many awesome Nyack experiences as possible until I walk across that stage.

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All too soon it’s going to be my turn.

Then, even though this Nyack journey will be over, I’ll be satisfied, not just because I made it to the finish line, but because I enjoyed every moment of the ride.

The Petrified Preacher

IMG_20141021_200143As SGA President, I have a lot of responsibilities that I’m expected to fulfill. I need to meet the needs of the student body, equip my team to serve in their positions, conduct meetings, plan events, fill out paperwork… And preach.

It’s tradition on the Nyack NYC Campus that once a semester, the Student Government Association takes over one chapel service, during which the SGA President gives the word. While I was prepared for almost all of the duties of the Student Government President, it was that last one that nagged at me before I even took on the role. It’s not that I never preached before; it’s actually something that I’ve done since I was 13. Leaders in my former church realized that I had a gift for public speaking, and they cultivated it, allowing me to give five minute sermons in church that were carefully guided and reviewed until I was 19 years old. Life then took a different turn and I had no opportunity to preach again, until now.

Now, after a 3 year hiatus, I was expected to give a 15 minute sermon without the supervision I had grown accustomed to. From the moment I was elected as president in May, my stomach began to churn at the thought of the sermon I was to give five months later, and each passing day only added to my anxiety. I prayed, I prepared, but still the butterflies in my stomach only grew and multiplied. Despite my preparation, doubts were clouding my mind and strangling my faith: What if I was rusty from the lack of public speaking? What if I stuttered? What if my sermon made no sense? What if God wasn’t with me?

It seems ridiculous now, but that last thought haunted me as the day of the sermon grew nearer. I had been praying about it for months and was yet to receive a “sure sign” from God that all would be well. That only made the doubts grow stronger, and I began not just to be anxious, but fearful. I wanted nothing more than to fast forward time to the day after the SGA chapel so that I could evade the whole experience. I was petrified.

Too soon the day of the SGA chapel arrived, and my heart took up permanent residence in my stomach. Classes and work faded into the back of my consciousness; all I could think of was the looming pulpit that awaited me. 5:00pm came and I made my way to the chapel room, trembling with every step. The service started off with worship, which helped to ease my anxiety as I connected with God and felt His love and peace. The euphoria shattered, however, the second my name was called. Half aware of what I was doing, I walked up to the pulpit, grabbed the mike, took a deep breath…

And froze.

Suddenly all the words I had rehearsed over and over again flew out my mind’s window, and I was left blank. I grasped for something, anything to say but nothing came. It was as if someone had hit the erase button in my brain. I was just about to put the mike down and walk away to find a hole to crawl in when a small part of my brain miraculously resuscitated and sent a cry for help up to heaven. Next thing I knew, words were flowing effortlessly from my mouth, and my sermon came to life. Passion welled up inside of me as I pleaded with the student body for more unity and community in our school.

When I finished, I felt stronger than I had in months—but it wasn’t my strength, it was God’s power. I felt His hand on me, and I knew that He had carried me through this entire sermon, speaking through me. It was the only sign I ever needed. Never doubt God’s presence in your life. He said He’d never leave us (Deuteronomy 31:6), and that’s a promise He intends to keep. Sometimes He doesn’t give us a big banner in the sky to assure us of His presence because He wants us to trust Him and believe that He’s there even if it doesn’t seem like it. At the right time, He’ll come through, just like He did for this petrified preacher. The best part? I get to do this all over again on April 1. And I’m not worried about a thing.

When I Couldn’t Pray for Myself

PhotoGrid_1421024893659It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. Not too long after my last blog was published, my life, in the words of Will Smith, got flipped-turned upside down.

The sudden death of my aunt and the ensuing custody battle for her 16 year old daughter rocked my entire family’s world and threw our lives into chaos. School and work were thrust to the back of my mind as I attempted to help my family (emotionally and in court) and devastated cousin in any way I could. Regularly scheduled life was put on hold as I struggled with this tragedy. I immersed myself into the custody battle and, together with my family, fought hard to ensure that my younger cousin would be able to stay with us, where she was happy and safe. Needless to say, I was a bit overwhelmed.

During this time, my Nyack family became my support group, calling and texting me in my absence from school to check up on me, listening to my rants and raves about the unfairness of the situation, and keeping me in their prayers. Thank God for their supportiveness.

Speaking of whom, where was God?

Well, I didn’t know. We weren’t exactly on speaking terms.

As much as I knew that I needed God more than ever during that period of heartbreak, I couldn’t bring myself to ask Him for help. I was too angry at Him.

CTA button for Blog UGHow could God allow something like this to happen? Why would he take a mother away from her 16 year old child, especially when he knew how close they were more than anyone in this world? Why would God put our family through so much? We had lost 4 of our members since 2010, and this felt like the straw that broke the camel’s back. I didn’t know what God was doing, but I was too angry at Him to pray.

And yet despite my rebellion and anger, despite my reluctance to seek God’s peace during this turbulent time, I felt Him working in me. In moments of despair, I felt his love and his strength sustaining me, keeping me from falling over the edge. In times like those I knew that even though I couldn’t pray for myself, my friends back at Nyack College were praying for me.

James 5:16 tells us to pray for one another. We are to carry the burdens of others all the way to the throne room of God and plead to the Almighty Father on their behalf. It is a heavy task, one that we take way too lightly. How often do we readily agree when others ask us to keep them in our prayers, only to forget the second they are out of our sight?  Clearly we don’t understand the power of intercession.

Moses pleaded with God to spare the disobedient Israelites, and his intervention turned God’s wrath away from them. Jesus prayed for his disciples, and they went out and changed the world. Can we not see the weight our prayers for each other carry?

When I asked others to pray for me during this tragedy, it was not a lighthearted comment meant to evoke pity for my situation; it was a solemn request that they stand in the gap and take my burdens to the Father when I couldn’t bear to. It was a serious task that I entrusted them with, and one that kept me near the Father even when I wanted to turn away. It was their prayers that made the difference.

What Happens When I Skip a Meal and Go to Chapel

On Tuesday I went to chapel after a long day of work. I was tired and grumpy and just wanted to go home. I was expecting chapel to be pretty similar to a church service: worship, sermon, prayer, leave. Instead, chapel at Manhattan Campus took the untraditional route and was led by Nyack College students. To my surprise, our Student Government Treasurer, Jessica Leclere, went up to the front to perform a worship dance. The song and dance together were so beautiful (“Wonder” from Bethel—put it on your playlist!) that it took everything I had to not fall flat on the floor and weep. The presence of the Lord literally felt tangible in the room.

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Jessica Leclere dancing to “Wonder” by Bethel

After that magical moment, one of our students, Shelby Samuel, gave an amazing testimony of God’s healing power in his life (He healed him from meningitis when doctors could only give him Tylenol. Is our God cool or what?). By the end of the chapel I felt energized and so at peace with God. I couldn’t keep the smile off my face. The experience of worshipping God together with students and friends and celebrating in each other’s victories had me walking on stars. I couldn’t help but think: why don’t I do this more often?

Chapel on the Nyack NYC Campus runs a bit differently from that on the Rockland Campus. For one, it takes place every Tuesday and Thursday from 5-6pm in our Music Room, room 2241.

Also, it’s not mandatory.

I can already see all the Rockland students throwing fits and getting ready to march to the Dean’s office to complain about the injustice shown to their campus, but let me let you in on a secret:

I envy you.

Honestly! I wish we were mandated to go to chapel. Why? Because then I would actually make more of an effort to go.

On the Manhattan Campus our classes run from 8am-11am, 11am-2pm, 2pm-5pm, and 6pm-9pm every day, with that single hour break between classes. Most of us use that precious hour to grab a bite, study, or just relax before going home or to our next classes begin. Because chapel occurs during that break, many students choose not to attend. Including me. However, ever since becoming SGA President I’ve made an attempt to attend chapel at least once a week, and man, now I know what I’ve been missing out on.

There’s something electrifying about God’s people coming together in praise . There’s something about the students you copy notes from in class or the professors who assign mountains of work all being leveled to the same playing field before God. There’s an energy in the room—a sense of love and community that can only be felt where a group of believers are because where we are, God is.

CTA button for Blog UGAnd that’s why I’m jealous of your mandatory chapel. The community I felt for the first time last Tuesday is something that you up at Rockland have the opportunity to experience every. single. week.

So Rockland folks, enjoy your time together in the presence of God. Put your exhaustion and papers aside and soak in whatever chapel has to offer that day.

To my Manhattan Campus crew—come to chapel!

Believe me, I know the feeling of needing that hour to eat or sleep or study, but that hour in the presence of the Lord is better than 10 hours doing anything else. I came out of that chapel service fuller and more energized than food or sleep could have made me and with a new love for my God. Give that hour to him, and who knows how much He’ll give you in return.

What in the World is the Student Government Association?

Whenever I tell Nyack students that I’m the president of SGA, I usually get the same response:

“The president of what?”

To make a long story short, the Student Government Association (SGA) is a group of students who represent the entire student body to the administration of Nyack College. Our main goal: serve students. We aim to make students’ lives at college as smooth and as fun as possible. In the past, we’ve helped build and advertise clubs, get discounts for students at various eateries in the neighborhood, get summer school 50% off for all Nyack students, and more.

But enough with the past; check out some of the things we did and will be doing this semester on the Manhattan Campus.

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When: September 10-September 25

The Commuter Fund is designed to help students who are in financial need and cannot afford to come to school with public transportation. Through the Commuter Fund, Student Government raises money and uses it to give MetroCards to students who need them.

If you think you might qualify for this program, grab an application in the Student Government office in room 007 in the Lower Level. If this program doesn’t apply to you, donate! It never hurts to help others in need, and who knows, your donation might be the reason someone earns their degree.

All applications are due no later than Thursday, September 25.

2. Hispanic Heritage Day

When: October 1

Where: Student Lounge (Lower Level)

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In honor of Hispanic Heritage month (September 15-October 15), SGA celecrated the Hispanic culture with music, performances, preaching, food, and more! Come grab some empanadas and listen to a few corritos with us in the Student Lounge.

 

3. Town Hall Meetings

When: October 15

Where: Room 2241

Do you feel like you need a voice in your school? You have a question you’ve been dying to ask the administration? Then come to the Town Hall Meeting!

David Jennings speaking at our Town Hall meeting last Fall

David Jennings speaking at our Town Hall meeting last Fall

The Town Hall meeting gives students an opportunity to have their questions and concerns heard by the faculty and administration of Nyack College, including David Jennings, our Executive Vice President and Treasurer, Pastor Charles Hammond, our Dean of Student Life, Isaac Foster, our Director of Student Financial Services, and more!

SGA will be handing out cards for you to write out any questions that you may have about our school from September 24-October 8, so start thinking!

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Why is this list any different from my last event blog, you ask? Because these events are created and coordinated all by the Student Government Association. We’ve planned these to keep you entertained and informed. But have no fear—this is just a few of the many events to come this semester! Stay updated with our events on adventures by liking us on Facebook and by following us on Instagram (nyack_sga), and don’t be afraid to talk to us in person. Come see us in Room 007 in the Lower Level. We’re here to help!

A Thursday Set Up by God

Ever had one of those days that you knew came straight from heaven, where it felt as if God set up a bunch of events that would show off his awesomeness in 24 hours? Last Thursday was definitely such a day for me.

I woke up on Thursday ready to go back to sleep. Between Student Government Association meetings, work, and class, I’d been averaging 18 hour days all week (without coffee!). By Thursday I felt like the walking dead and wanted nothing more than for the day to be over so I could crawl back into bed.

If only I knew what an interesting day it would turn out to be.

My day started at 9:30am with a meeting with some of our club leaders at Nyack College Manhattan Campus. We (The Student Government team) met with them to share our hearts and start the semester off as one team. The response of the leaders made my heart swell; they were just as excited to work together with us as I was. Their energy and heart for the student body was infectious, and I became wide awake just by listening to the ideas and plans they had for our school.  There was no better way I could have started my day.

Met with this awesome group of student leaders. But first, let's take a selfie!

Met with this awesome group of student leaders. But first, let’s take a selfie!

The day continued and anxiety began to take over me. I had to give my first speech in my Public Speaking class at 6:00pm, and I couldn’t have been any less prepared. I was making outlines and doing research but still had no idea what I was going to say. What made me even more nervous was that I wasn’t just giving any speech; I would be giving a “test run” of the sermon that I plan to preach next month in our Student Government Chapel. I hadn’t preached in over three years, so needless to say I was nervous.

Around 5:00pm I gave a test run of the test run of my sermon to the monkey statue in our SGA office, stammering and stuttering my way through. As I worried over how I would pull this off in an hour, a woman I had never seen before stepped into the office, not saying a word.

“Can I help you?” I asked as she looked around the room, wonder in her eyes.

Her response came unexpected: “I feel like crying,”

Immediately I was alarmed. Did something bad happen? Was it her financial aid situation? Her grades? How could I help this woman?

“What’s wrong?” I asked her, almost afraid at what I would hear. Finally she looked at me.

“I was the Student Government Association President in 2007.” And suddenly it was like I was talking to an old friend.

Former SGA President, Stacey Heyward, gave me a surprise visit.

Former SGA President, Stacey Heyward, gave me a surprise visit.

We spoke for about half an hour, with her in awe of how far Nyack had come (from our old apartment building of a school to our new modern building) and how much SGA had grown. She gave me words of encouragement that eased my anxious heart; her wisdom and experience spoke volumes to me, and even though nothing she said had anything to do with my looming sermon, a peace came over me regarding it. I went to class later with hardly any fears about the speech I was about to give. The professor called me up, and after a silent prayer, I gave the best sermon I have ever preached to an audience of 6 people. I knew that God was with me—He had spoken through me even though I felt as if I wasn’t ready to speak.

I was in awe of what He had done, not just with the sermon, but all that day, giving me wondrous experiences that showed off His grace and made clear the plans He had for me. While each event was separate, they all had one theme—the future of Nyack College. The meeting with the student leaders, the chance meeting with a former SGA president, and my sermon (which speaks about Nyack College, but no spoilers!) all served to show that God has great things in store for our school.

CTA button for Blog UGThursday doesn’t happen every day, nor do extra obvious workings of God happen all the time. God is always working in our lives whether we know it or not, but sometimes he gives us a Thursday as an extra reminder that He always here, leading us on the best paths for our lives. So look out for the Thursdays in your own life and know that your Father is working in you, setting you up for a bright future.

Hispanic Heritage Day: What Makes Us Unique Holds Us Together

Located in the heart of New York City, Nyack College’s Manhattan campus represents the melting pot well. In our school African-Americans, Hispanics, West Indians, Asians and many other cultures coexist to create the wonderful Christ-centered community we have.  And at Nyack College our cultures are not just represented—they’re celebrated. In honor of Hispanic Heritage month (September 15 to October 15), Student Government Association hosted Hispanic Heritage Day on October 1 in our Student Lounge.

There’s only one word to describe it: Wepa!

Hispanic Heritage dance

Our new Dance Club gave their debut performance as they gracefully moved to Israel’s “Te Amo.”

The dance team wasn't the only one moving: there were some impromptu salsa lessons as well

The dance team wasn’t the only one moving: there were some impromptu salsa lessons as well

Finally, our SGA Upper Classmen Rep Katheryn Cedeno (who coordinated the entire event) ended the night with the Word.

Finally, our SGA Upper Classmen Rep Katheryn Cedeno (who coordinated the entire event) ended the night with the Word.

The beauty of Hispanic Heritage Day was not in the performances or the food (although there was definitely beauty in that), but in the crowd. Students of all ethnicities and backgrounds came out to celebrate the Hispanic Culture. We all clapped and cheered as Urshelle sung, even though most of us had no idea what she was saying, and some of us even got a little bold and attempted to salsa. The food of course was enjoyed all around. The word from Katheryn, whether it was in Spanish or in English, was applicable to all.

CTA button for Blog UGThat’s what makes Nyack special: we’re one big blended family. We know that in our differences lie our strengths: if we were all the same, how many jobs would go undone? While differences tear the world apart, we celebrate what makes us unique as much as we celebrate the God and the purpose that holds us together. Hispanic Heritage is merely one example of that. There’s more celebration to come!

Lessons in Leadership: Teamwork

When I was elected President of the Student Government Association here at Nyack College NYC Campus, I came in thinking that I’d been preparing for this role my entire life. I’m the eldest of four children; I’m used to responsibility, accountability, guiding others, and most of all, work. I figured that this leadership role couldn’t be much different than the one I held at home. I forgot that in my role as a team leader, I have one crucial thing that I lack as a sibling: a team.

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Extremely grateful for the SGA team God has given me!

So I began to do all the work all by myself: I scheduled meetings (when I had a secretary for that); I updated our Facebook page (when our Public Relations Officer was capable of doing it himself). I planned, I updated, I scheduled, I stressed, and very quickly, I burned out. How was I supposed to manage a team of 6 people and oversee an entire student body by myself?

The answer was simple: I wasn’t.

It took some wise counsel from our Coordinator of Student Activities, Cezanne Perez (who’s turning out to be our campus guru) and pleading from one of my team members for me to realize that I needed to share my responsibilities with my team. If I was going to do that, there were a few things I had to understand first.

1. A good leader shares responsibilities and tasks

Just as I voluntarily ran for SGA President knowing that I would have to work, so had my team. They had volunteered for their respective positions knowing what they were getting into. I had to remember that my team wanted to do their job. They wanted to play their role in our team and to make a difference in our school. It was what they had chosen to do.

2. God called my team

Before the SGA elections were held, the previous SGA team (of which I was a part) earnestly prayed that God would handpick the leaders for the upcoming team. I firmly believe that God has called me to this position at this time, and I need to realize that He’s called my team as well. They’re not leaders by accident; they’ve been divinely chosen to do this job. If I do everything by myself, I squash whatever potential they have and hinder the calling that God has placed on them.

3. A good leader has to trust the team

If God himself handpicked my team and if they voluntarily chose to be a part of SGA, then I need to trust their hearts and their abilities. I need to be able to assign them tasks and know that they will accomplish them as best as they can. I need to allow them to do their job without me breathing over their shoulder. If I can’t trust my team, I break us apart and severely limit the service we will able to offer the student body. I have to be able to depend on my team, as much as they need to depend on me.

And so I stepped out of my own comfort zone and began to rely on the team for different tasks. Our secretary organizes meetings and sends out messages. Our Public Relations Officer manages our social media sites and our treasurer prays every day for a larger budget. It was only after I shared the responsibility did I see what an amazing team God gave me. They are completely capable of doing their job, and they have such a heart for the student body. I never would have grown to appreciate them had I been stubborn and done everything on my own. I can now see the beauty of teamwork—of having one body that is capable of doing multiple things at the same time, and doing them well. I’m more excited than ever to see all the great things we’ll be able to do this year, especially since I know that I won’t be doing them alone.

Stay up to date with the Student Government adventures by liking us on Facebook!

Lessons in Leadership: Finding the Vision

Over the summer I began doing some preliminary work as President of the Student Government Association here on the Nyack NYC Campus. I created an agenda, I held meetings, I planned events, I strategized, all with the mind that I was doing exactly what a good leader should do.

Then the semester began, and suddenly I was losing my mind.

As I was walking to school last Friday I began to feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of my job. I realized that there was so much to do in so little time, and I started questioning the worth of all that I had planned. One thought led to the other, and the next thing I knew, all these nasty thoughts about my own inadequacy started trickling in: there’s so much more preparation I should have done; I could have done this better; I’ll never be as good of a president as the last one; I’m doomed to be a complete failure.

Before the panic attack could kick in, I decided I needed some sound advice and went to the one person I knew could give it to me: Cezanne Perez, our Coordinator of Student Activities. As I poured out my woes to her, she zeroed in on the exact issue I was having.

CTA button for Blog UGI had all these pieces flying around—plans, ideas, events—with nothing to hold them together. It was no wonder I was losing my mind; I lacked the one thing that would unify everything I wanted to do and give purpose to my term as SGA President.

I didn’t have a vision.

Don’t Miss the Big Picture

How many times do we leaders jump right into business and get so caught up with the details of every day activity that we forget to focus on the big picture? Why are we doing what we’re doing?

That’s exactly what happened in my case. I was so caught up with being a good president and continuing the work that had been handed down to me that I forgot why I was doing it. I was so busy planning and organizing that I missed the purpose behind it all. I had to figure out what my main goal was as SGA President. What do I want to see happen in my school? What change do I want to make? What is my vision?

More importantly: What is God’s vision? How does God plan to use me in this position? I learned enough to know that I set myself up for failure if I neglect to seek God’s guidance as a leader.

How Do I Know What My Vision Is?

We might know that we want to make a change and do big things as leaders, but we’re not quite sure what that big thing is. How do we figure out what our vision is?

1. Spend time in prayer.

My very first lesson in leadership was learning to hand control over to the Lord. Spend time in prayer and meditation on the Word. He’ll lead you to what it is that He’s called you to do as long as you pay attention to what He’s telling you. I’ve found that He’ll have already placed the vision in our hearts; we only need to search and see that it was there all along.

2. Write the Vision

DSC_0009 (2)Cezanne gave me an assignment (borrowed from Hillsong Church) that changed the game for me, which I’ll now share with you.

In 6-8 sentences, write down what it is that you want to see in your church, school, program, or wherever it is that you lead. What do you want to see happen? What do you ultimately hope to achieve?

Be completely honest and simple. Don’t overthink it. When you’re finished, read it over. You’ve just found your vision.

3. Execute the vision.

Habakkuk 2:2 tells us to “write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.”

After you’ve written your vision, run with it! All your plans and events now revolve around it. It becomes the center of all you do. You’ll find a newfound drive to fulfill your mission, and suddenly your ideas and dreams will fall into place. You’ll even see God move in ways that will confirm His plan and make it a reality.

I took Cezanne’s advice, spent some time with God, and then wrote out my vision. Once I had it, I was able to breathe easier. I was centered and grounded. I knew exactly what I wanted to see happen at Nyack College this school year.

About 15 minutes after, another student leader came to me and spieled all about her plans and dreams for the school. I almost fell out of my chair. Her vision and mine lined up perfectly. It was all the confirmation I needed. The vision held; now it’s time to execute.

Jehovah-Jireh: God Provides

I walked into Nyack College one day sure of two things:

I was really hungry and really broke.

I had a long day of work ahead of me with nothing to reenergize me during my lunch break. I decided not to sweat it until I had no choice. 3:00pm came and still I was without food or money. Just as I started calculating the possible nutritional value of my book bag, I felt a tap on my shoulder.

“Hey,” a worker from another department said. “We have some leftover food from the meeting we just had with our students. Grab a plate and come get some.”

Boom. Just like that, God provided.

That’s merely one of the countless times I’ve been without, and somehow God showed up and gave me just what I needed.

MultiCultural Day at Nyack College Manhattan Campus: another of the many times I saw God provide what I needed.

MultiCultural Day at Nyack College Manhattan Campus: another of the many times I saw God provide what I needed.

We spend precious hours of our lives worrying and lamenting over the things that we lack, whether it be food, finances, paying for tuition, or anything else that we need. We stress, we complain, we post our woes on Facebook and we forget that the God who owns and controls all things is ready and willing to provide all that we need. A passage in Matthew that is over-quoted and under-appreciated reads: “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For…your heavenly Father knows that you need them” (Matthew 6: 31-32).

I can imagine that many will roll their eyes when they read that scripture and say “I can’t help but worry. It’s human instinct.” At least, that’s what I used to say until God’s provision blew me away. I saw Him provide over $500 for my missions trip in less than a week, when I only asked for $300. I saw him provide food for a children’s foundation in Colombia right before their meal when they had absolutely nothing to feed the kids. I saw Him provide my financial aid when there was no possible way I could pay for college. He provided me with a job (jobs, actually), with clothes, with encouragement, with love, with good people to surround me with everything that I’ve ever needed.  How can I continue to worry when my Father has shown me time and time again that He will always give me what I need?

CTA button for Blog UGIn Matthew 6:30 Jesus addresses those He’s speaking to as people of “little faith.” I think the problem for many of us is that we don’t believe that God will come through. We tell others and we tell others that we believe. We recite it like a mantra, but deep down in our hearts we question whether God will really provide. Our faith is little. Maybe if we believed more, we’d see more of God’s provision. The Bible is filled with stories of men and women who had incredible faith and saw God move in incredible ways. They knew that Jehovah-jireh (God their Provider) would not let them down. Maybe we should follow in their footsteps and believe that our Father will give His children what they need. More faith, less worry.

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