The team at Desiring God and Matt Reagan, campus director for University of Minnesota, gathered recently to give some practical advice and guidance for college students at the start of this Fall semester.
Desiring God is a ministry lead by John Piper, which seeks to “spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.” The ministry hosts a myriad of conferences, Q&A sessions, and has made hundreds of Piper’s sermons available for download on their website. In this “Behind the Blog” episode, David Mathis, Jonathan Parnell, Marshall Segal, and Tony Reinke spoke with guest Matt Reagan about collegiate goals, discipline, perspective, and attitudes of the heart.
Reagan opened by sharing five things that he believes will help students make the most of their school year:
1) Glorify God with a sharp mind – use what you learn in school for the mission of God.
2) The most important book is the Bible - the Bible is the ultimate standard of truth by which a student should judge every other book.
3) Disciple someone younger than you – spend some time investing in the growth of others.
4) Avoid comparison in the classroom – comparison leads to pride and to jealousy. Be humble and celebrate the gifts and talents that God has given others.
5) The Gospel alone saves - even the “A” student should recognize his or her dependence on Christ. This will help guard against prideful delusions of self-sufficiency.
Learning for a Christian is different than secular learning – Christians should value education because it reveals more about our Creator, not for the sake of gaining a competitive advantage. The following summarizes the five men’s counsel for Christian students:
Get a Bible reading plan in place before school starts – something to help you be consistent throughout the semester (the YouVersion Bible Application has recommended Bible reading plans). Set reasonable goals and read the Scriptures daily.
Guard against idolatry – don’t try to excel academically at the neglect of your walk with the Lord and your relationships with others.
Find a good local church and get involved in Christian community - find a mentor who is a little bit ahead of you in the faith, be accountable to a small group of friends, and find someone to disciple and invest in.
Don’t get too busy – go deep with one group of people instead of joining several clubs, ministries and being relationally shallow with all of them.
Have a good motivation for being in school – the cure for Senioritis and apathy in school is to see the beauty of God’s creation in learning (science, math, poetry, history, etc.). A success-driven mindset is legalistic, while a desire to faithfully endure the season that God has put us in is honoring to Him. We will all do many things in life that we won’t naturally enjoy, and we will often have to work to see God’s beauty in our circumstances and to be faithful to His call on our lives. Pray to the Lord for help to have this mindset throughout your schooling experience, knowing that you have a purposeful role to play in the Kingdom of God.
Be humble – ask yourself how you can respond to others in such a way that glorifies God. Romans 12:16-17 says, “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight” (English Standard Version).
We will continue to learn for the rest of our lives as Christians, as the infinite God reveals more of Himself to us (see 1 Corinthians 13:12). More in-depth resources with advice for students can be found on DesiringGod.org.