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Purpose of Schoolwork

Joseph Kwan

Last year, a friend asked me “Do you think that you glorify God in everything that you do, particularly in school?” The question caught me off guard mainly because in some ways it was out of the blue. At the time, we were studying and talking when all of a sudden our conversation veered away from doing schoolwork to the purpose of schoolwork in the first place. I had quite a bit of difficulty answering this question, especially after thinking about education from a societal point of view for all my life. Particularly within Asian American culture, a heavy emphasis is placed upon the value of education and putting it paramount to nearly everything else. While the value of education is indeed important, ultimately I realized that I must first look at why I’m in school in the first place to better understand my purpose as a student.

Many people will say that education is a gateway to opportunity in the world. Others will say that it is critical to survival. Still others will choose to say that education is the very fabric civilization as we know it. While all these statements may be true to some extent, none of them fully grasp why we as students should care about God in our studies. After discussing this issue with many people, I believe that God has really opened my heart to understanding how education should be placed in my life.

Here are two things I realized:

  1. It’s all about who you serve. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:23-24).”
    • In the same way that God’s first commandment from the Ten Commandments is “You shall have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3)”, we are serve the Lord Christ first with no other thing/person coming before Him.
    • I realized that when my drive in college to exceed in my classes is just for a 4.0 GPA, I take a step back and really evaluate why I want to have that perfect GPA. Is getting a perfect GPA because I are truly serving God or am I serving myself and trying to advance my own success? I have found that after being caught up with schoolwork every day, the difficulty of just taking a step back and really acknowledging who I am doing this for is perhaps the hardest thing to understand for myself.
    • The Bible specifically outlines why we should work hard for the Lord because of the eternal inheritance we will receive as a reward: “…an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you (1 Peter 1:4).”
  2. We need to use our blessings. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).”
    • We are blessed with the gifts that we have been given from God. No matter what major you are or what your GPA is, you have been blessed to be in college at one of the best universities in the world/nation/state, which is a huge blessing in and of itself. Since we are considered to be the light of this Earth, let our lights shine through the things that we do. What better way to show others that light than through our work as students!
    • In the end, let our good work be a means to give God all the glory. These good works means that despite if you pass or fail, the grade you got is a blessing from God and all the more glory to Him. Let us focus on working hard and trust that God has, can and will provide for us. “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established (Proverbs 16:3).” Let us place our faith in something that goes beyond this Earth and in something eternal. Could we be faithful on our end just as God has been always faithful on His?

College is not just a way for us to get a job: Our time in college is a blessing from God to serve Him to the best of your abilities. So maybe serving God in school means that we should not skip class and be on time. Maybe we should study hard. Maybe we should be the students that others admire for their work ethic. I am still growing in all these areas but will you join me, brothers and sisters, to dedicate your life to God? Not just during church or small group or large group or camp retreats, but in every aspect of your life including school.