In the wake of graduation, I’ve been asked if there is any wisdom I could impart to my younger counterparts. Part of me finds it humorous that anyone would think I have a bank of knowledge or wisdom to delve into, but another part of me pauses to realize that I’ve been through a rigorous four years that have deeply shaped my thoughts, opinions, and really who I am. So what advice would I give to a younger me?
Sleep. This one seems like a gimme, but when you living a rowdy dorm for four years (shout out to Brock!), sleep is a commodity that can be hard to come by. It may seem like sleeping more will cost you time, but it will probably make you that much more efficient and effective in your school work and balance it out. Go ahead and have your late nights hanging out with your buddies here and there, but make sure to get enough rest too.
Work hard. Okay, this one seems like a gimme too. Let’s be honest though–by the time your halfway through your first semester the work ethic starts to fade a little. You have to fight off a huge temptation to slack throughout your entire college career (especially your senior year!) I’ve personally come close to a 4.0 on 5 different occasions in college and failed to achieve straight A’s each time. Unfortunately this was not typically for lack of ability but for lack of effort. If I did my absolute best I know I could have achieved a 4.0 and the blessed 4.0 mug on multiple occasions, but I did not follow through to the fullest extent of my abilities. Dr. Estes started this past semester by stating that we all have great goals and aspirations, but at this very moment God has called us to be students and we need to glorify Yahweh by being students to the best of our ability. As much foresight as I practice, this is true and we need to be faithful to where we are and who we are right now–students.
In contrast, I’d add that grades aren’t everything. Don’t work so hard that you burnout. Take a Sabbath. Enjoy your breaks. Have fun with your friends. But don’t turn in anything unless you’ve done your very best.
Make friends with your professors and fellow majors. Perhaps this is unusual for more formal majors or larger schools, but some of the most enjoyable times I’ve experienced in college have been “hanging out” with my fellow Youth Ministry majors and professors in class. Getting to know professors outside of class is enjoyable and gives you times to pick their brains and learn their wisdom (there is a reason that they are teaching you after all). Getting to know your fellow majors apart from class makes you legit friends, which in turn makes class that much more enjoyable. And when you get close enough to your colleagues and professors you eventually feel comfortable enough to things like this to your professors:
Make your spiritual life a priority. At least at Cedarville where chapel and Bible classes can consume much of your time, it is easy to let your spiritual life slide. I’ve learned a ton about the Bible, Jesus, and ministry in the past four years and have grown in many ways. But I’ve also let a lot of opportunities slip, kept my Bible closed too frequently, and ignored my yearning to know God and not just know about Him. Make sure that what you are learning about God stays in line with actually getting to know God, and try not to confuse the two.
Get involved in a local church. Sometimes we confuse chapel and the church. Unlike church, chapel is a spigot. It gives us seemingly endless streams of sermons, messages, illustrations and takeaways with virtually no involvement on our part. Church was never designed to be a spigot though. Church is meant to be a place where we are actively involved in Kingdom work. Cedarville students typically have more formal Bible education with the Bible minor than most churchgoers and with that knowledge comes responsibility. Get involved in a ministry. Join a church. Get to know the people in your congregation. Don’t just sit on the sidelines.
The list could go on with a myriad of lessons and morals but let me suffice it to say that college goes fast. Real fast. It sounds cliche to say that it seems like yesterday I was moving into my dorm for the first time, but the memory is still vivid and grasping that that was three and a half years ago is unfathomable to me. Perhaps that is why it is so easy to let your spiritual life, your church involvement, your work ethic, or your sleep schedule fall out of routine–because time flies and it is easy to fall of track as the sands of time pass quicker than we realize.
So carpe diem! Seize the day! Take advantage of the opportunity in front of you! Be intentional! Have fun! And most importantly, run after Jesus with reckless abandon! You’ll be better for it.