Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. (1 Timothy 4:12)
We talked in a previous post about being a Christian in a non-Christian working world. In this post, we’re talking about school, which will be back in session soon. This means the first day back at high school or, for some of you, college. I survived both with very few scars and I can tell you the balancing act is not easy, but it’s highly possible. My story isn’t a perfect one, but hopefully I can help to encourage you if you’re teetering on the edge or finding yourself isolated because of your beliefs.
If you’re anything like me and you’ve grown up in a Christian household, your parents were pretty strict. Not that I was always trying to get away with doing something I wasn’t supposed to, but it was a lot easier—and encouraged by my peers—if I was at school versus at home. When most students were hooking up, trying to coast through their classes and paying more attention to their outfits than their homework assignments, staying on course was one of the most difficult things to do. So how do we motivate ourselves to pack our values right next to our textbooks without fear of being ostracized?
Here are four ways to stay true to your Christian walk regardless of the atmosphere on campus.
1. Be focused. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the areas of your life that don’t affect your report card. Face it—we all want to have fun every once in a while, but don’t forget why you’re there. Make sure to give it your honest effort every time you step into a classroom. Thriving in an academic setting shows a maturity and accountability that you will build upon for the rest of your life.
Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. (Proverbs 16:3)
2. Be obedient. I remember my dad telling me when I was in middle school that I should always behave in a way that he would be proud of even if he wasn’t there to see it. There are rules your parents might have that annoy you or seem like a burden at the time (for example, my mom asked me to call her every time my school bus was going to be late dropping me off at home), but respecting their wishes is something that honors them and your Heavenly Father at the same time.
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. (Colossians 3:20)
3. Be rooted. What happens when you have no curfew, no rules and no guidance? The transition to college is one of the most difficult times as a believer, and it’s easy to feel lost without your support net of accountability. If you’re going away to school, do some research on local churches in your area to find a church home. You can also start a Bible study on campus if the Lord is leading you to do that. Without being connected to our Savior, there is no way for us to grow spiritually.
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6-7)
4. Be respectful. Our main purpose in life is to share the gospel and be an example of Christ to everyone, and this includes our classmates. It is our responsibility to plant seeds in their lives, but the Holy Spirit is the one who causes change within their hearts. This doesn’t mean you can’t share your personal convictions, but leading by example will do much more than condemning other people for their actions.
Your heart should be holy and set apart for the Lord God. Always be ready to tell everyone who asks you why you believe as you do. Be gentle as you speak and show respect. (1 Peter 3:15)
What are some of the things that make it difficult for you being a Christian in a non-Christian world of academics? How do you deal with them?