The Purpose of College – From God’s Perspectives
Eric grew up in a good, moral family that went to church each Sunday, gave to the building fund, and even took a role in the Christmas play. Through most of his teenage years it seemed like the normal thing to do for any self-respecting person in a church-saturated small town in southern California. That is….until he became a Christian. It was the summer before his freshman year in college before someone told him he couldn’t be good enough to get to heaven and that Jesus came to begin a personal relationship with him. A light clicked on in his mind and heart and he determined to zealously serve God with every waking moment.
Now on campus─and having already earned the reputation for being a fun, but busy, “get it done” kind of person─he threw himself into every imaginable spiritual activity. He dropped in on different campus ministry meetings each week, attended multiple Sunday school classes, joined the church choir, and even served on the soup line at the local homeless shelter. He was trying to fill his schedule with a whirlwind of religious activities, somehow thinking this was what God expected of him. He didn’t let people get too close to him but, deep down knew his Christian walk was a mile wide and only an inch thick.
Eric yearned to know his Lord in a more intimate way, and to help his many friends experience the life-changing transformation that only Christ can give. Only one problem─he didn’t know how! It was now his junior year in college and time and opportunity were slipping away. Feeling desperate, he set up a lunch appointment with one of the local campus ministry staff guys and poured his heart out. It was like his soul was being cleansed as he confessed, “I feel like such a fake. Everybody thinks I’m such a great Christian, because I show up at everything, ready to help, and with my smile plastered on. I’ve been here for two and half years and I’ve never asked anyone to disciple me, never led a single person to Christ, and I’m lucky to squeeze one quiet time in per week. I’m sorry to dump all this on you, but I’m serious about making some changes. Would you be open to helping me?”
Of course, any ministry or church leader, with even an ounce of vision, dreams and prays for students like Eric to come and ask for spiritual help. In fact, there are hundreds of thousands of church and para-church staff, student leaders, and volunteers around the world, anxious to pour themselves into students who want to grow and make a difference for Jesus Christ. And like Eric, they realize the college years are the very best time in life to build the essential knowledge, skills, character, and vision to effectively prepare for another 40-50-60 years of walking with God and leaving a legacy of changed lives.
College─Webster’s definition: an independent institution of higher learning offering a course of general studies leading to a bachelor’s degree.
College─My definition: A four (or more!) year window in a person’s life when God has maximum opportunity to build a foundation into a life lived for Him.
If life is defined as the preparation for an eternity lived with our Maker, then college is the ideal time of prepping for this life. It’s a small window in life where the Lord can reach down into your heart and turn it towards Himself. College is the ideal time because you’re no longer under the protective wing of Mom or Dad and you get a chance to figure out what you really believe. It’s the perfect period for God to lay down some long-term tracks in your life because you don’t yet have to face the rush of responsibilities that follow after graduation. Dr. James Dobson, founder of the Focus on the Family Ministry, says that a critical decade exists between the ages of 16 and 26 where “most of the decisions that will shape the next fifty years will be made, including the choice of occupation, perhaps the decision to marry and the establishing of values and principles by which life is governed. What makes this period even more significant is the impact of early mistakes and errors in judgment. They can undermine all that follows.”
If a deep and solid foundation can be built during the college years, there is a much better chance that, later in life, you will withstand the pressures of the world, continue to walk with the Lord, and impact others. Let’s look at two foundations that any Christian college student needs. First, we focus on building a personal and spiritual foundation for your own life and ministry. Then we take a look at some of our predecessors in order to learn the life changing lessons of students who have gone before us to touch the world for Christ.
An Excerpt from The Fuel and the Flame
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