According to Wikipedia, the largest university in the United States by student enrollment is Texas A&M University (74,829), followed by the University of Central Florida (70,406), Ohio State University (67,772) and University of Florida (60,613). This, of course, does not count a dozen or so online universities which boast of over 100,000 students.
Today, when driving through the beautiful, sprawling campus at A&M, it is impressive by any standards; however, it is even more astonishing to realize that all this was envisioned, established, built, developed, and populated with both students and its fine faculty in only 152 years! (A & M University was founded in 1871). And, of course, a century and a half is a considerable amount of time, even to build the largest university in the United States.
So often, as we student choir directors start and restart, build and rebuild, it is easy to feel that our programs are much like the drab, gray, four-story building in the photo … or perhaps even the frame annex behind it.
Here are 5 insights which will help us as we build towards the future.
1. Excellence can occur in the humblest of dwellings and in the smallest of groups.
2. As educators and ministers, we are, by nature, seed planters. Yes, we get to cultivate the early garden and will even see some harvests and successful crops. However, the most substantial crops are most likely to become reality long after we have departed. As we plant, nurture, water, weed, and “work” the crop, our biggest investments are in the future well beyond our lifespans.
3. If we do our homework envisioning, planning, and preparing beyond our own limited horizons, those who come behind us will take to the next level(s) the mission we have launched and stabilized.
4. We do our best work when we keep thinking about tomorrow. This is not to say that we worry about next year or wring our hands in anxiety stressing over the future. Nor is it to insinuate that we fail “to be in the present” because we are wrapped around the axle of future trepidation. Something amazing occurs when we approach our ministry with the long view in mind. When we give energy to dreaming about tomorrow, it then becomes easier to “rewind” back to the present. Our vision for the future will positively affect the work we are doing and the relationships we are developing right now, in the moment, today.
5. What we see when we drive onto a major university campus is impressive real estate. There are some gorgeous campuses across the United States and throughout the world! All this real estate is hugely important in the universities’ mission of educating young adults and growing leaders. Let us never forget that our mission, too, is with real people, students, learners, neophytes, strugglers, self-starters as well as shy, passive personalities. It is our task and, indeed our honor and privilege, to provide all our students that which will take them to the next levels of their development – socially, artistically, emotionally, and spiritually.
As we youth choir directors work with our students, we need to think big … or at least bigger. Let us move way beyond our personal egos and putting programs together just for our times and tenures. The better, nobler way is to envision what lies beyond our own horizons and dream of a day and time when today’s seed will grow into full bloom.
Let us do more than dream it. Let us also work intently toward it!