On Monday, I addressed a common problem I see among Christian college students: uncertainty about how to interact with those who disagree with our beliefs. Here is my challenge for you.
The reality is that there are threats in life and on campus. Satan does exist, and he is actively seeking to trip up God’s people (1 Peter 5:8). So, it’s good for a student to be prepared before heading to college, but hopefully in the right way. I first want to list all the helpful advice often offered by good people at church or in a family (in bold), followed by my own clarifications.
- Find the Christians—particularly, find a church that preaches the Word of God for continual growth in grace and knowledge. Also, find a Christian group on campus that helps its students think about their place and context on campus in light of scripture, and does not act as a church substitute. Thankfully, generations of teenagers, including me, have heard these exact words from Mrs. Linda Boice, the ever faithful teacher of the senior high Bible school class at Tenth Presbyterian Church.
- Hang around the right people—although most of you probably learned this lesson in high school, even a Christian high school, and don’t necessarily need this advice repeated, it’s still worth saying. Even in Christian colleges there are people that are not seeking your welfare. There are certainly professors at any college who would rather shake you to the core and challenge all your beliefs than instruct you properly in the subject at hand. Being with the "right" people can help encourage, lovingly challenge, and secure you even if the right people are not—yes, not—Christians.
- Time management is the key—they are right, proper time management is a huge part of your college life. In fact, if you don’t manage your time well, you don’t have much of a college life to begin with because you'll either drop out or spend all your free time studying!
- Call your parents—especially if you’re far away. Just do it. However, every night for two hours and during every meal—just as if you were home—is not a good idea.
Parents may not agree with some of my clarifications and may have so many more nuggets of wisdom to share, but after these, I have noticed that advice gets pretty weird. While we are on the subject, if a teenager doesn’t in any way desire to follow or try the first two pieces of advice listed above, it’s best not to force it; it only gets worse if a parent does. Parents should trust God in faith that your teenager is ready for what lies ahead. If they are not, parents should trust God in prayer that he brings them to himself in his own timing.
In part 3 of this series, I'll address some other helpful advice to the college student who finds himself or herself "alone in the room."