As college students around the country regather to in-person or online school, the most important preparation is often overlooked. I get the question often: What is the best advice you could give a college student?
Here it is:
Find college students who love Jesus the way you want to love Jesus and follow them.
Follow them where?
- Follow them to their church
- Follow them to their groups
- Follow them with the people they do life with
Imitate them as they imitate Jesus (1 Cor. 11:1).
The first 2 weeks will make or break your college experience. Depending upon the relationships you build in the first 2 weeks will determine how you finish.
Find Christ-pursuing friends and don’t leave their side.
If you want to follow Jesus closely, find those students who are passionate about Jesus in the way you want to be, and follow them.
Those Who Make It
I always knew that intentionally placing oneself in positive environments affected one’s spiritual condition, but I never realized how pivotal it was until I worked with students on a college campus. I discovered an important reality at a business fair where our church set up a table. Students would walk by and tell me hello and ask what was new at the church. I would recognize certain students and be able to remember their names and ask them how their class load was going. What alarmed me was that I knew so many of the students and at some time those students had come to our church or attended one of our Bible studies, but they were no longer active in anything remotely religious. I knew how they were living, and it was not according to what they once said they believed.
They were involved at one time, but now so many of them were missing in action. I attempted to discover why they were no longer involved.
- Were my communication skills lacking so much that it kept them away from our Bible study?
- Was our church too outdated for them to perceive the message as relevant to their lives?
- Were we completely missing the way to minister to their needs while they were in college?
Finally, I realized a common denominator between every single student I encountered that at one time had been active but now was not growing in Christ – they had chosen bad friends.
Seems too simple of an answer? I thought so too.
Surely the simple answer of having chosen bad friends is not the problem of these students. Without a doubt, every student who had at one time followed Jesus but had drifted away had surrounded himself with friends that had led him astray. I counted numerous Christians enamored with good intentions to grow but never positively enhanced their spiritual condition. They were never able to grow because the environment in which they placed themselves was not conducive to spiritual growth. These environments were actually counterproductive to their spiritual health.
They never grew beyond their environment.
I then looked to the other extreme. I started listing the ten students who possessed the most contagious faith. I studied the students who were growing to be like Christ, keeping their integrity intact, and reaching out to those far away from God. They too had a common denominator – they chose great, godly friends. They differed in being blessed with godly parents. They ranged in their length of time as a Christian. They possessed differing levels of biblical knowledge, but they all had surrounded themselves with people who were crazy about Jesus. The people that they allowed to be closest to them were first and foremost people who were closest to God.
Do you want to grow in Christ? Find some students who love Jesus passionately and authentically and follow them.