College has been one of the most stretching, amazing, and growing times of my life and I am only two years in. I know that without my faith, college would’ve kicked my butt long ago. College is a make it or break it time, and sometimes things that were mandatory growing up fall to the wayside when classes, clubs, sleep, and coffee all add up.
Honestly, college looks different for everyone so if someone comes up to you and says it’s the hardest thing ever. Take that advice with a grain of salt because it comes naturally to some people. I have met people who moved across the country and are doing great with the stress and distance college brings. I will say that most people experience a hardship in college but it may be due to friends, lack of scheduling, or being malnourished, not necessarily due to the level of education you are at.
70% of young adults drop out of church. (Christianity Today)
What if college was a place of revival, not drifters? What if your college was flipped upside down because of the radical love you exemplify? What if you are the vessel to bring Jesus to the broken people on your campus?
These are 6 words of advice to fight for your faith in college. I do not claim to have all the answers, but what I have seen is the trial and error of seeing people fall away at college.
I. EVERYDAY BATTLE FOR FAITH
Even at a Christian college, the fight for faith is real. College is a time to do what you want because this is the first time you have that level of freedom. Already with this idea, college is challenging faith. What I am saying is that when we follow the world’s view of freedom, it is not freedom. Faith brings freedom, and if there is anything worth fighting for, it is faith.
When it comes to any relationship, you have to want it. It is the same way with God. You have to get down to the tough decisions to build daily upon your relationship with God.
The reason I am mentioning this one first is because everything else flows from this. I believe if you desire to know God, you will take the steps necessary to do so. The following words of advice are ways I have seen people intentionally grow their relationship with God in college.
II. FIND A MENTOR
I have found that people who thrive in their faith in college have someone they trust to walk them through the feelings and fear it can bring. A mentor can help be a guiding voice in times of confusion. You need someone that will listen and validate your struggles. A mentor will be a faith saver in college.
III. COMMUNITY. COMMUNITY. COMMUNITY.
You will never have a community like you do at college, so enjoy it. Soak it in. Go on midnight runs to Waffle House. Play dumb games in the dorm. When I talk to college graduates about what they regret in college, over half of them say that they wished they would’ve done more to be a part of the community.
Community is important, but Godly community is essential in college. You need people who are there to genuinely ask how you are doing and challenging you to be in a relationship with Jesus. I’m not going to lie. When people come up to me and ask about how my relationship with Jesus is going, it is tough to be genuine, but I have never regretted honesty. Vulnerability is a giant step towards community.
IV. SPIRITUAL DIRECTION
The first step is to recognize the fact that your moods change. The next is to make sure that, if you have once accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day. That is why daily prayers and religious readings and churchgoing are necessary parts of the Christian life. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed. And as a matter of fact, if you examined a hundred people who had lost their faith in Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have been reasoned out of it by honest argument? Do not most people simply drift away?
No one drifts towards God. They have to be rowing towards him. Peter had to keep his eyes fixed on Jesus to walk on water; so don’t you think we would have to do the same?
Spiritual Direction is important because you must be heading towards Jesus. The way C.S. Lewis says we can do this is by Spiritual Disciplines. These include meditating on scripture, centering prayer, or journaling.
All of these are important in certain seasons. I would encourage that as you are building up your faith this summer to head back into the wilderness, start a discipline now so that by the time school starts, it will already be a habit. Choose one of these three or ask someone what disciplines they love to do.
Discipline is a way to continually make room for God to speak into your life no matter the season you are in.
SLEEP – GRADES – SOCIAL LIFE
Chose 2 of the 3.
This is what I have always been told and it has been true. What I do not want you to believe is that you choose two and then the third thing gets tossed overboard. NO. Your priorities change and if you are like me, they will usually change daily.
There will be times when I have to say no to a couple hours of sleep because I have to finish an assignment. (SIDE NOTE: You are paying thousands of dollars to be there, so it is OK to say no to sleep or friends at the expense of maintaining scholarships to keep allowing you to attend school. You cannot hang out with those friends if you flunk out. Just saying.) Then the next night, I will say no to some friends because I am running on five hours of sleep and need rest.
If you are a people pleaser, then know that you do not need to sacrifice your sanity or money to keep people happy. Yes, you may miss out on something cool, and I know I am somewhat contradicting the community part of this post, but this is the fun balance of living in college. Good luck.
VI. PRAY. PRAY. PRAY.
College without prayer is like spending the night at your house alone without your parents. It is terrifying and you just want to survive till they are back.
Prayer is going to be the key that unlocks revival on your campus. God hears our prayers. He responds to our prayers. There is nothing God cannot do. It doesn’t matter what college you go to or where. Prayer can impact the hearts of others.
Do not shy away from big prayers. God can handle the emotional, heart-felt, and radical prayers. On bended knee, lift up a generation that desperately needs the love of Jesus.
Let’s come together and see the 70% go down to 50% in the next 4 years.
Lets pray that the number of raised-in-the-church young adults will continue to attend a church in college, and see this number decrease by 20% in the next four years — by the time these undergraduate freshman graduate. It sounds crazy because this is only one blog post, but we are all people who can embody Christ to this upcoming generation. It is a bold prayer. It is one I believe only God could do. I desperately want to see him place a fire in the hearts of college students around the world. Do you?
Grace and peace.