Things I wish I was told before I left for college

Things I Wish I Was Told Before I Left For College

Around June every year my commute to work gets a little bit sweeter. This is because the high school that I live near goes into summer session and the early morning traffic jam it creates takes a break for a few months. Then September rolls around and the bumper to bumper traffic returns. However, one thing that doesn’t return is an entire class of students. So as the class of 2012 starts to pack their bags, here are a few words of advice…a few things things that I wish I was told before I left for college.

Be responsible

Your college education is important. However you need to make sure that you view your education (or anything else you have for that matter) with a biblical perspective. You have been given an opportunity to attend college. This does not make you better than others who do not have this opportunity. What it does mean is that you have been blessed with something which you now are to be a responsible steward of. The parable in Matthew 25:14-30 describes the relationship between a master and his servants and how each servant was entrusted with something of great value. A few things we can observe are:

  • The amount that each servant was given varied, but as we’ll soon see the responsibility was the same
  • The ownership of these things always belonged to the master, the servants were stewards or managers
  • The purpose behind the possession of these things was not self-serving, the servants were to invest them for the master’s gain
  • The result of being a faithful and responsible steward was rewarded, the 2 servants that invested and earned interest for the master received the exact same praise even though the amount of return was different

Don’t get caught up comparing what you’re doing after high school with someone else. Realize that whatever you’ve been entrusted with is not yours. Resist the temptation to be self-serving. Seek to understand how to invest yourself purposefully for God’s gain, and “…enter into the joy of your master (Matthew 25:23)“.

Stay focused

I was in college when YouTube started gaining momentum. As if there weren’t already enough distractions, suddenly dubbed versions of old GI Joe cartoons were all the craze. There are a lot of things that will distract you from pressing onward in the manner which Paul describes in Philippians 3. The need to stay focused and press on is reinforced when Paul describes the Christian life as a race in two of his other letters in the New Testament. He describes it as requiring self control in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, so that we could win the race. He also describes it as requiring endurance in Hebrews 12:1-2, “…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith”.

You’d never try to run a marathon wearing jeans and carrying a suitcase in your hands. Take the race seriously and as you run, consider what might be slowing you down. Stay focused, and fix your eyes upon Jesus.

Look out for that pop quiz

I found myself cramming a lot during college. That usually did the trick when I knew a test was coming up. However when those pop quizzes reared their ugly head I was usually caught off guard because I had spent my time doing useless things. Boy did I wish I had been studying more regularly.

Likewise, life will take twists and turns when you least expect it. Classes will seem impossible. Your transcript may begin to look more like alphabet soup. Friendships and relationships will seem like more trouble than they’re worth. Unexpected circumstances will come your way. However despite these circumstances, remember that your citizenship is not in this world but in heaven (Philippians 3:20). Remember that Jesus came to die for you and I. Remember that He came to rescue us. And explode into doxology as you put all the pieces together. However the sad reality is these are the last things that come to mind. Make it a point in college to develop a healthy habit of studying the Word of God regularly. Then you’ll be ready for any pop quiz that comes your way because you have learned and remembered these things.

While sharing about his initial reaction to finding out his daughter had cancer, Pastor Britt Merrick recalled the strength and encouragement he found as the scriptures flooded his mind, specifically Psalm 61:2. He was ready for the pop quiz. He described it as “your mind goes to Jesus (skip ahead to  8:15, but the whole thing is worth watching)“. Invest time in setting a solid foundation that is built upon the Word of God. You never know when there will be a pop quiz.

Study hard

There are so many other things that can be said, such as the importance of plugging yourself into a local church, but we’ll end it with this last point (which is extremely similar to the previous point, but still worth repeating). I trust that if we can get this right, the other things will fall into place. Study hard.

It is easy to bury yourself in your books studying for school. As much as we’d like to say we always studied to learn, a lot of time was spent studying to simply pass a test. No, we’re not flip-flopping on our previous bit of advice. Be a responsible steward with the opportunity you have been given to further develop your God-given talents for God’s glory. However, do not de-prioritize studying the Word of God, which has eternal value. May we say with the psalmist, “Your word is a lamp to my feet. And a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)”.