Christians in college face a unique challenge. But by God’s grace, you can thrive during your college years.
I’ve been out of college for several years now. As I reflect on my time in college, there’s a few things I wish someone would’ve told me along the way. What are they?
Here’s at least six things that Christians in college should know:
1) Find and serve a good church.
Podcasts are awesome. There’s nothing wrong with listening to Matt Chandler and Tim Keller. But your favorite podcast preachers aren’t your pastors.
In college, it’s essential to find a good church, become a member, and serve. Supplement with podcasts, but no parachurch or podcast should take the place of the local church in your life.
2) Don’t over-complicate God’s will.
“Who should I marry?” “What should I study?” “Where should I live?”
College students tend to over-analyze and hyper-spiritualize everything. Trust me, I’ve been there. But finding God’s will is easier than you might think (A good place to start is Kevin DeYoung’s book, Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will)
Why do we make decision-making harder than it needs to be? Sure, some decisions are tough. And prayer and counsel certainly do matter. But often times you should just pick things that you want to do– that’s not a sin — and do it. Trust that God’s Providence is steering your every move.
So don’t feel crippled over every little decision, especially non-ethical ones. As the old saying goes, “God wants you to get where God wants you to go more than you want to get where God wants you to go.”
3) Spend your time wisely.
The stereotypical college student is portrayed as a person who eats ramen noodles for breakfast, sleeps in on most days, and is glued to their phone. This is not always true, but aimless living is never wise.
Don’t get me wrong. Sleep is awesome. I also check my phone a lot. And Lord knows I’ve had plenty of ramen noodles, but you really should seek to spend your time wisely in college, since you have more free time right now than you ever will. Don’t waste it.
4) The first year out of college is super hard.
Not trying to scare you. But just a heads up: first year out of college is hard.
Well, it was for me.
Change happens when you graduate, and change isn’t easy. In my case, that meant a new job, a new group of friends, and a new city. As I look back, the reason why it was so hard was because of the idols in my life. I was trusting in so many things for my joy other than Jesus that, when those things were removed, I was undone.
I’m grateful for that season now. But the “real-world” adjustment was tough. You may have a different experience, and I hope you do. But most graduates affirm the difficulty of the first year in the real-world.
Try your best to prepare for the adjustment. The best way to prepare (in my opinion) is to ask older, trusted Christian friends for wisdom.
5) Debt is no joke.
There’s this weird way of thinking with some Christians in college: “I know God will provide, so I’m not worried about going $50k in debt.”
It’s true that God provides, but is debt wise?
Some cases are unavoidable, I guess. But most aren’t. Think, pray, and act wisely on avoiding debt.
6) Only Jesus satisfies.
“You have your whole life ahead of you,” is something you’ll hear a lot in college. “You’re preparing now for your best years ahead!”
True. But let me say: Only Jesus satisfies.
I know rich Christians who are miserable. I know married Christians who are unhappy. I know single Christians who are discontent. The lie that culture tells you is, “Once you get ____, then you’ll be happy.”
Don’t believe it.
Yes, marriage and money and success can be good aspirations. But those things can’t do for you what only God can. And only God can satisfy the deepest longings of your heart — nothing else, no one else. As Augustine says, “Our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.”
Christians in College: Don’t Waste Your College Experience
Well, there’s the six things. There’s plenty more I can add, but this is a start. If I had to leave you with just one more thing, though, it’s this: whatever you do, don’t waste your college experience. You (usually) only get one shot. And it goes by quick. So do what you want to do, but do it for Christ. As C.T. Studd once said, “Only one life; ’twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”
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