I ventured out to the grocery store this past Sunday afternoon and found the aisles clogged, much like the streets, restaurants, and stores all over my city.
In this I rejoice because it means the college students are back in our little college town, returning to another semester of studies or perhaps their very first semester away from home. Although it means clogged thoroughfares and long lines at the stores closest to campus, I love living in a college town, interacting with students, and serving at a church that values these students. This is why: my college years were pivotal years of spiritual growth, career direction, and relationship decisions. College students, like I was, are ripe for becoming spiritually alive. When we invest in them, we are influencing future influencers.
On Sunday, they indeed appeared in herds, many of them looking scared and uncertain. I spoke to many of them, welcoming them to our city and our church, reassuring those who are new to college. But oh how I wish I could have pulled each of them aside to exhort them to use these years wisely. If I could have, this is what I would have said and what I will say to them as I get the chance:
- Major in the majors. You are here to get an education, yes, but academic achievements and accomplishments are poor gods. The most important pursuit while in college is to pursue and know God.
- Take your time before making extra-curricular commitments in your first year of college. Your temptation will be to do everything and sign up for everything. Ask God to show you your place. He’ll do it.
- Connect with godly community among your peers, but don’t just connect with college-age students. Find a church where you can know and be known by adults, families, and children. You will need the wisdom and the perspective of being with people who are not in college. The best way to connect in a church is to serve in some capacity.
- Use your summers and breaks wisely. Believe it or not, those summers and breaks die a quick death when you graduate and get a job. Go on missions or serve while you have large blocks of free time.
- Respect and learn from those who have gone before you. College can sometimes create an insular environment where “the way we do it is the right way”. Respect your parents, who you feel may not understand or know what you know. Ask questions of and learn from adults in your community who are living faithfully in the world after college.
- Set good foundations. College is a foundation-building time because the priorities and habits you form now will be what drives you after you graduate. Create good foundations in friendships, dating relationships, church participation, spiritual disciplines, trusting God with your future, and keeping your ambition under God’s leadership.
- Finally, enjoy college! College is great fun and can also be a time of joy for you as you surrender your college years to the Lord.
What advice would you give to Christian college-aged women?