Alone in the Room (Part 3)

by John Canavan February 14, 2014

In part 1 of this series I wrote about the common situation for Christian college students who find themselves "alone in the room." In part 2, I addressed and clarified some of the helpful (and not so helpful) advice that parents, teachers, and friends pass along about how to prepare for life as a Christian college student.

What about other advice for the Christian student who’s "alone in the room"? Well, here are a few thoughts I’d put forward that may help each student to thrive and not just survive:

Enjoy God’s presence to enjoy the rest of life—a Christian on a college campus is often looking for things to avoid. But the best way to live is seeking out the presence of God on a daily basis and enjoying what he provides for life today and in eternity (Psalm 16:11). What he provides may be different or unexpected, like an unbelieving friend or a class on Eastern Religion (note: just because you take a class on Eastern Religion does not mean you believe in Eastern Religion, which should be obvious). It’s helpful here to remember the first question and answer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy him forever.” Life is meant, even in the difficult times, to be enjoyed because we glorify God by living.

Don’t argue with a professor; talk with a professor—it’s not wise to argue with a professor for a number of reasons. The first and most important is that he or she probably has a PhD in the subject and you have…absolutely nothing in the subject.[1] All professors are great people to learn from and talk with, even unbelieving professors. They are experts in their field and generally very nice people, even to Christians. As a Christian it is not right to be quarrelsome or arrogant but gently speak with the professor out of genuine interest even if you disagree (2 Timothy 2:24). The same applies to fellow classmates.

Don’t “have a ministry” while in college—shocking, I know. Use the four years you’re in college to learn from others and be ministered to. If you’re off “ministering” to others, you often lose sight of an enjoyable life as a college student and lose out on opportunities to hear from others. You also don’t have time to make genuine friendships with people your own age if you’re working with a youth group or evangelizing on your campus. Instead of having a ministry, volunteer in something at church or on campus that’s understaffed or somewhat humbling like the nursery at church or work-study as a janitor. Interestingly, chances are that while you are doing “normal” things, God puts people in your path to minister to. This is exactly what happened to Paul in Athens (Acts 17:16-34).

Listen and think—hopefully this is obvious, but even the best of us need to be reminded to listen and think. I always found it most helpful, when I was in college, simply to listen to the lecture and think about it along the lines the professor was arguing. Often I retained more and could converse and write more clearly about the subject when the final came around. Speaking too much can have spiritual ramifications. Our hearts are evil and sinful, and by God’s grace our mouths don’t spew forth unending filth from the heart. But the tongue can start a fire (James 3:5-12). It burns bridges, friendships, and future grad school references. Mostly, it makes us stop thinking. When you are talking you are not listening and probably not thinking. Think about what’s said to you, and respond only if necessary. It’s a humbling task but one that helps you learn more.

When feeling alone in the room, a Christian student is actually in great company. Christ is always there (John 14:18-20), and in loneliness he promises to be your companion (1 Kings 19:15-21). But, for the sake of thriving in God’s world for his glory and kingdom, know and enjoy him in faith not fear.      

 

[1] R.C Sproul, Tabletalk, November 2010, pgs. 4-7