As the Summer season breathes its last warm breath, many students are heading back to school. This is a unique time of the year filled with uncertainty and nervous excitement in the lives of these college students. In order to thrive in your first (or fourth!) year of college, I want to offer some helpful counsel.
1. You are NOT a student first.
I do not care what you parents, academic advisers, guidance counselors, or professors say. Your primary identity is NOT being a student. Although you may spend hours laboring over the dusty pages of ancient books in your campus library, your number one priority is to make much of Jesus Christ – not your studies.
I once heard of a wise professor at a seminary telling his students, “For some of you, it would be sinful not to get an A in this class; for others of you, it WOULD BE sinful for you get an A in this class.”
Your relationship with God comes before your studies.
Your relationship with your family comes before your studies.
Your relationship with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ comes before your studies.
You are a Christian before you are a student so prioritize your time accordingly. What does it profit you to gain incredible grades, prestigious awards, and published articles if you only lose your soul in the process?
2. Root yourself in a local church.
Every college campus, even Christian ones, are notorious for shattering the faith of zealous believers who have spent the last four years drinking soda out of a sock at youth group. In college, as in the rest of your life, it is going to take more than emotional highs and silly games to sustain your faith.
There is an invisible enemy that lurks around your college campus with the desire to kill, steal, and destroy you. Peter provides us with helpful advice: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8
We need to remember that one of Satan’s most effective tactics of devouring believers is by isolating them from a local church. He does this primarily through busyness. If you allow your commitment to a local church to drift during your time at school, you WILL lose this battle against Satan and his demons and your faith will be ruined.
Therefore, root yourself in a local church. Join a small group, serve on a morning team, commit to attending worship services; do NOT unplug from the church as a result of your studies.
3. Do not be taken captive by deception.
All of us are aware of the moral dangers of a college campus. Unfortunately, we are far less aware of the deception that wreaks havoc in the minds of believers being challenged in their faith. It is easy for us to lack discernment and simply received all material we learn in school as truth.
Paul warns us of this danger in Colossians 2:8 – “Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.”
Paul describes this teaching as “empty philosophy” that sounds extremely intelligent. Ultimately, the teaching finds its source solely in human reason which has been marred as a result of sin. This is what you will encounter in your secular religious and philosophy classes.
Nothing is new under the sun.
I would encourage you to be as noble as the Bereans who “searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.” (Acts 17:11) Even when you are confused by a certain teaching, I can promise you there are solid resources by evangelical scholars who have encountered the issues far before you did.
Below is an incredible video by The Gospel Coalition on this subject:
What would you add to this list? Let me know by leaving a comment!