Now that the first round of exams have passed, let’s take a breath and congratulate ourselves on making it through a third of the semester! If you are feeling lackluster and exhausted, take some time to rest, but don’t be discouraged. It’s our nature to question the value of all that we invest into school, and perhaps wonder why we go through all the trouble to learn.
If you are a freshman, you may be discovering the value of Christian community and the unique gift of college ministry. It may also be an overwhelming transition to the busyness of college life, meeting new people and making all sorts of new decisions on top of schoolwork. If you are an upperclassman, things may be going your way as a result of discipline, good habits, and self-discovery throughout college- you are a lucky one. Others may be starting on this path, but finding it hard to see the gain of their actions. There is also always the temptation to put school on hold and passively finish out your remaining time here. Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum, I’d like to write a reminder of our current position as students.
As followers of Christ, we are not of the world, but have been temporarily placed here with access to resources to make our time on earth worthwhile. Paul writes:
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.“(Phil. 3:14).
What a glowing picture of obedience and pressing on towards the goal of heaven! With eyes fixed on the prize of Jesus, we are renewed with strength to learn and achieve great things for Him during our time on earth. Though Paul turns his eyes heavenward, he continues his journey on the earth, living his daily life governed by the laws of the world.
As salt and light of the world, we serve a specific purpose in the world. Jesus reminds us:
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:13-16)
Our functionality as salt and light comes from unique learning experiences that grow us into people who preserve the goodness in the world and influence the world for the better, so that God is ultimately glorified. Here are two points to consider when examining the importance of our learning in relation to glorifying Him.
1) God desires to bless our work in making a living to support our families and ourselves. We become better equipped to do so after investing our time and effort into learning.
“The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the LORD will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers “ (Deut. 30:9)
2) We are given the privilege and authority to spread the gospel and kingdom of God. In order to bear the testimony of Jesus, we need to be trustworthy, respectable servants. We are young people blessed with an access to education, and much of our credibility can be built up through learning and discipline in school.
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Tim. 4:12)
Because our obedience and utility as Christians is carried out within the scope of the world’s expectations, our intention is to become well-equipped followers in the context of our society, ready to offer our best fruits that were cultivated in college. This applies directly to missions, whether in the workplace or among unreached people groups: it is God’s ultimate plan to put our skills to use. If it’s hard for you to find purpose and drive for learning in college, try visualizing the person you want to be upon graduation.
- Set goals based on this picture
- Ask the Lord to mold you into the workmanship he desires
- Build yourself through community, church, and relationships
- Remember that the result of your college career says so much more about you than your condition at the start of college
Our time here passes by so quickly as a brief transition period for us to ease into adult life without the full load of worries and realities in the working world. This is the time where we make critical choices and prepare ourselves to live out the consequences of our decisions. Our fullest learning comes out of a balance between academic pursuits, and discovered passions, talents, disciplines, and values. We have great flexibility to examine these things as young adults in college, because the one thing many of us hope to discover here is what God desires to do through our lives.
I hope this has been an encouragement to the reader as you continue on the journey towards the prize in Christ Jesus. Above all, use these four years as a time to build up and refine your talents and spiritual gifts to be readily used as developed men and women of God.