Recently it was graduation season. Finally, all the years of hard work have paid off as many students now get to transition to a bigger school, hopefully to study to work in a field that they love. In our time, graduates have greater opportunities than in any other previous generation, yet there are also great pitfalls. This is where biblical wisdom steps in; it is the advice based on God’s Word you wish you heard before falling into a bad or sinful situation that could have been avoided. There are a lot of things on our graduates’ minds, but valuing biblical wisdom above all else through their young adult years is vital (Prov 3:13-18). The following are some gold nuggets of wisdom I have gleaned from the Bible and from my college and young adult years.
Make Faith Your Own. My first piece of advice is to make your faith your own. Often commitment to Jesus Christ will either grow or shrink radically as you transition into young adulthood. Faith untested and unproven is sometimes exposed as not being real faith. Your parents may no longer be able to force you to go to church or to defend your faith on your behalf. These responsibilities are now up to you.
I often wondered during college what the secret was for growing in my faith in Christ. But news flash: there is no secret! The Bible says to do the same spiritual practices that you will hear everywhere: be regularly in prayer (Eph 6:18; Col 4:2; 1 Thess 5:17); be regularly reading and memorizing the Bible (Ps 1:2; 2 Tim 3:16-17; 1 Pet 2:2); and be regularly worshipping, fellowshipping, and serving with other believers (John 4:24; Heb 10:24-25; 1 Pet 4:10). If you do these things, you will be stepping up and making your faith your own.
Faith Will be Challenged. As you venture out into higher education, know that your faith will be challenged. Most professors at universities are overwhelmingly liberal or atheistic. Unfortunately, they often use their positions as teachers, their expertise as experts in their fields, and their brilliance to undermine the biblical values and religious faith of students. But this does not have to be a faith destroying experience. What helps in this situation is knowing that the university setting can be hostile to your faith while also trusting that there are competent answers to every objection anyone could raise against Christianity.
More than any other previous time there are abundant resources including videos, podcasts, books, and websites that seek to answer every challenge leveled against Christianity. I encourage you to write down the questions or objections you hear and to do some simple research online to answer them or talk about them with a spiritual mentor. Having your faith challenged in this way is an opportunity to search for answers and to ground your faith on a solid foundation of truth that will benefit you for the rest of your life.
Basic Pitfalls. I have to mention the basic pitfalls because although they seem obvious, sometimes what is obvious is what we ignore and catches us off guard. The main themes of proverbs provide us with the main pitfalls to avoid during younger years (and lifelong of course!). Avoid Intoxication. Engaging in underage drinking of alcohol and other drugs is not only illegal but addictive and destructive (Prov 20:1; 23:29-35; Rom 13:13-14; Eph 5:18; 1 Pet 4:3). Unfortunately, many colleges and universities foster the “party” mentality with abundant alcohol. Hopefully the consequences of this behavior are well-known to you by now: addictions, unintentional injuries, car accidents, DUIs, being taken advantage of, promiscuous behavior, being kicked out of school, failing classes, violence, health problems, etc. Moderation of alcohol may have its place in your life when you reach the legal drinking age, but if you cannot adequately control yourself, the best decision you may ever make is to abstain from alcohol completely.
Avoid Promiscuity. Sadly, colleges and universities have become the place where sexual activity and promiscuity are rampant and even encouraged. The Bible overwhelmingly advises purity because sex is most meaningful in marriage (1 Thess 4:3-4; Heb 13:4). Remember, even your body belongs to the Lord for the purpose of holiness, therefore sexual promiscuity is always wrong and sinful (1 Cor 6:18-20; Eph 5:3; Gal 5:19-21). Again, hopefully the consequences of this type of behavior is clear to you: sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancies, being taken advantage of, lifelong regrets, etc. The Bible advises guarding your heart and mind from lust, fleeing tempting situations, and making friends with those who promote and protect your purity, not who encourage you to violate it (Matt 5:28; 2 Tim 2:22). Don’t Be Lazy. It may be all too easy to be lazy in college or in work in general. Many of the people around you may appear to skate by and party most of the time and still manage to pass. But make no mistake: the work ethic you develop in school will be the same one you carry into the work place and into your personal life. The Bible says the lazy person will not prosper but that Christians should do all their work to their best ability to the glory of God (Prov 6:6-11; 21:25-26; Col 3:23). Keep Good Company. The desire to make friendships, have fun, and to have new experiences will lead many of you to listen to bad advice and make poor friendships and decisions. The Bible gives clear warnings about peer pressure and bad company corrupting good character (Prov 1:8-19; 1 Cor 15:33). Instead, make godly Christian friendships with those who pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace, and purity (2 Tim 2:22).
Get Plugged-In. The opportunities to associate with other Christians in most colleges and universities is available, but it will take a bit of initiative on your part. Be on the lookout for campus fellowships, clubs, or groups that will help you grow in your faith. Attending church during college is also a must. Many churches close to the college or university likely have growing and vibrant college groups. Pastors and churches are aware of the growth and needs of students that appear when school is in session, and often they are thrilled to have you worshipping, fellowshipping, and serving at their church during this season of your life. On another note, it is from getting plugged-in like this that you likely will meet and make new lifelong Christian mentors and friends. Don’t cut yourself off from the discipleship, fellowship, and friendship opportunities in Christ that are waiting to happen.
Support from Home. Another key piece of advice is to never forget your support from home. Venturing out can be difficult because of the new environment, hard classes, so many options, and even loneliness. But never forget that the same family, friends, coaches, teachers, church members (especially pastors) will continue to support you after you go off to college. Today the ability to make a phone call, send a message, or even video chat is greater than ever before, so remember to maintain and to continue to benefit from these relationships. The support of your family, friends, and especially church family certainly doesn’t end when higher education begins.
Learn, Grow, Prepare. Looking back on my college days and the years following have impressed on me the importance of learning, growing, and preparing. Life is a continual learning process. Take advantage of this time! It’s time to go to school, time to get a new or first job for some job experience, time to start managing your schedule and laying the foundation for your future. Your faith in Christ can grow vibrantly as you go through all of these challenges and decisions. Remember that life is a ministry, and now you will have special opportunities for evangelism, discipleship, and service you won’t have once you are out of the school setting. Remember the purpose for the season of life you are now entering, and as you are following God’s leading, every minute can be used for His glory and to prepare you for what He has in store for you next.
Support Grads. Lastly, everyone can ban together to support our graduates and graduates everywhere. I remember the ongoing support I received from my church now over a decade ago, and it was by no means a large church. They gave me gifts like a John MacArthur Study Bible (which we do at CBC), a laptop that I needed for school, and a kindle (when I graduated college). They also gave me scholarships toward my tuition. Occasionally I received encouraging phone calls and cards. I always enjoyed visiting my home church during breaks, and I have enduring relationships with some of these dear saints to this day. In the end, one of the best things anyone can do is to support, encourage, and pass on biblical wisdom for life to the upcoming generation of young people.
– Pastor Spencer Carpenter