Life lessons to be learned at college . . .and beyond
1) Guard your heart. Proverbs 4:23; 2 Timothy 2:22
Don’t just date to date. Guard your heart with all you have. Be wise and discerning in who you get attached. God is gracious to heal but it is painful to go through hurt. Because she/he is a Christian, does not mean she/he is right for you. Be very cautious in dating and realize dating/relationships determines your destiny.
2) Read the Bible—Psalm 119:105; Hebrew 4:12; 1 Timothy 4:12, 16
Hunger and thirst for His Word. It is so filling and so convicting. His Spirit will guide you and show you His Will if you stay in His Word. Too often we just read a devotion that has a quick little verse. Rather, read a Bible you can understand and pray for discernment. Be disciplined in this. Read His Word daily and don’t neglect it. Stay in it and allow God’s Word to permeate your soul.
3) Pray, be patient, and wait for an answer—Philippians 4:6
If you stay in His Word and pray to God, He will reveal His will to you. Pray for the big and small stuff. Pray for your classes and your friendships. Pray about where to go on a Friday night. Pray for your friends. Pray for your teachers. Pray for the small stuff and the big stuff. Pray for direction about the right college. Pray about which events to attend. Don’t rush God and wait patiently, listening for His voice. Don’t just think because it is a Christian school, you should go there. Be patient and wait on God. When we pray, we are the ones that are changed.
4) Guard your time and be efficient in time management. Ephesians 5:15-16
The saying is true, “Plan a minute, save an hour!” Life is very short. Your life is made up of minutes and hours. Don’t just veg in front of the TV or computer for hours on end with no end in sight. Life is short and be aware that we will never have those minutes again. Who knows when our last days will be. Be wise in how you spend your time.
5) Don’t internalize everything. 2 Timothy 2:24-26
Everything is not your issue or not your fight. We only have a limited emotional bandwidth. Be careful and choosy in what you allow to get on your “emotional dashboard.” I get very frustrated and aggravated over things or people I cannot change and let it get inside me. Give it to God and let go. Know your limitations but also know when to stand up for what you believe. There are fights worth fighting but we need to very wise and discerning in what those fights are.
6) Accountability is key to growth—Proverbs 27:17
Find some guys/girls (same sex as you) who love God and you trust, respect, and like and develop an accountability relationship with them. Be wise and discerning in who you choose. Share your weaknesses with them and develop a relationship where you know they will get in your face weekly about your weaknesses. It is an incredible way to sharpen you in your spiritual walk and grow as Christians.
7) Enjoy life to the fullest—John 10:10
As Christians, we should model the ultimate life. Jesus said He came to give us life and life more abundant. Have fun and enjoy life. Go the beach, have fun with your friends, go camping, etc. Do things you enjoy and honor God in it. God wants you to have fun and He wants to bless you. He wants you to enjoy life.
8) Acknowledge your weaknesses and intentionally develop ways to protect yourself. 1 Corinthians 10:13; Proverbs 5; 2 Timothy 2:22
We all have weaknesses, the key is acknowledging them and find accountability. Pride leads to destruction. If you struggle with looking at bad things on the Internet, move your computer to a public place in the house or at least always leave your door open. Only look at it when others are home and always leave an out. If you still return to looking at it, abstain from the computer for a month. If you have problems with drugs, flee from those friends who do drugs and are bad influences. If you have trouble going too far on dates, only double date and if she/he does not want to but wants to always be alone with you, its time to break it off.
9) Forgive and let go. Matthew 18:21-35
If someone has done something wrong to you, allow yourself privately to get angry, journal out your feelings . . . then forgive the person and let it go. Don’t wait for the person to change or admit fault. They may never change or admit fault but it is your relationship with God that is key. Don’t hold on to it, because it will eat at you and cause like a poisonous venom later. Because of the incredible grace God has shown us, the least we can do is forgive others.
10) Take advantage of your summers—Ephesians 5:15-16
In high school you are limited with your summers, but when you get to college, explore the world during your summers. Go and do things you have always wanted to do. Backpack across Europe. Hike the Appalachian Trail. Be a camp counselor at a fun summer camp. Work for Campus Crusade on the beach. Find a fun job or find a job that might apply to what you want to do in the future. Explore but if you can help it, don’t do the same thing every summer. Once you are out of college, you won’t have this opportunity again. You will probably get a job or possibly go to graduate school and you won’t have the time to go and explore. You will have car payments, house payments, family to support, have a wife, summer school for graduate school, etc. I am not saying that life is not fun in the future but summers in college are special.
11) Count the cost with fraternities/sororities in college—Proverbs 22:1; 2 Timothy 2:22
Pledging a fraternity may be what God has for you, but be very wise and discerning in the character of the people you are pledging to associate. I saw plenty of straight A high school students almost funk out in college or at least get C’s and D’s their first semester in college because of pledging a fraternity. You can make some life long friends in fraternities/sororities as well as gain a sense of identity and foundational confidence for life. It consumes an enormous about of your time and money but you do build a tremendous camaraderie. As in all of life, be wise in whom you associate. The values of people you associate will begin to be reflected in your own. Famous quote, “tell me what the 5 people you spend the most time with are like and I can tell you your future.” Be wise in whom you associate.
12) Develop a friendship with your parents—Exodus 20:12
No one loves you more than you parents and you will miss them when you go away. Life is very short so treasure the time you have with them now. Treasure their relationship. Why harm a relationship with the one who loves you most?
13) Don’t play with fire in temptations 2 Timothy 2:22; James 1:13-16
Flee from temptation. Guard your bodies. Guard your mind and your heart. I beg you to abstain from sexual immorality. You are just destroying your future marriage and adding baggage to a possible 50 year marriage. Why waste it for such a fleeting time? It is worth the wait. If you have already messed up, God is so gracious to forgive but the hurt is tough to overcome.
14) Pursue servant leadership. –Philippians 2:4-8
When it all comes down to it, there really is no other good leadership style than servant leadership. Be servant leaders and humble yourself. Follow Jesus example.
15) Focus on friendships with girls over dating. Proverbs 5; 2 Timothy 2:22
This goes along with guarding your heart. With hormones so high in high school, dating can be quite dangerous. You are lighting a fuse who don’t want to ignite. Igniting equals teenage pregnancy, dreams crushed, rushed marriage. Focus on friendships in high school and in college because 1) it will protect you from sin, 2) you will respect them more as a person you care about, 3) guard your heart, 4) takes the pressure off of dating, 5) allows you to discern whether this is the type of person you want to date or not.
16) Solidify your beliefs now. 2 Timothy 2:12
Know who and what you believe. Have your own faith that is yours and not your parents or friends. Who is Jesus to you? Who do you trust? In college, a lot of temptations and freedoms will be thrown at you that you will never have faced in your life. Solidify your beliefs now in high school. Stay in God’s Word, find a great church, find guys who will keep you accountable. Grow in Christ like you have never grown before. College is a great time to grow in Christ, have a great time, and get an education.
17) Study hard in college. 2 Timothy 2:15
Ultimately it is your life and whether you study or not is up to you. Do you want to be a success or just limp through life? Your grades are ultimately for you because it is your future, not your parents. Do you want to dream big dreams or just accept mediocrity?
18) Stay in shape 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Paul is talking about not being disqualified spiritually as a leader but I believe it can also apply to our bodies. Our pastor says, “Don’t let your soul write a check your body cannot cash.” Meaning, don’t allow your body to be a hindrance in your ministry for Christ. Don’t get fat and out of shape where you cannot be effective for him. Exercise and honor God through the body He has blessed you with.
19) Be wise with your words 1 Timothy 4:12; 2 Timothy 2:14-15; James 3:1-12
Realize everyone of your words has a consequence. Be careful in what you say and realize the awesome power of your tongue. Flee from gossip, flee from bad mouthing teachers or other friends. Think before you speak or email or send letters. Words can be so dangerous and have such evil consequences. One word can definitely start such a “forest fire.” What do your words say about you?
2 Timothy 6:11-16; Ephesians 3:14-21; Philippians 1:3-6; Colossians 1:9-12