The back to school season marks a new chapter in the lives of many.
Some will journey away from home for the first time; others will begin their last year of school before starting their careers. Sophomore and junior students remain somewhere in between, knowing what lies ahead of them while still not far from what they left behind.
All this creates enough excitement and thrill on its own without the extra layer of craziness brought on by 2020. That’s why we want to help you prepare for heading back to school with these 6 things to remember.
- Prioritize Your Relationship with God
Jennie Allen recently told a virtual group of college students that “all hell is coming for you… there is darkness everywhere you look. ”
How can you fight against this darkness?
By diving deeper into your relationship with God.
John 10 reminds us that the enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy us, but Christ gives abundant life. We access that abundance through a relationship with him –gleaning from his word and praying often.
Distractions will try to get in the way of this, especially at the beginning of the school year, so it’s important to prioritize your relationship with God from the start. This will help set a firm foundation for the rest of the school year.
- Invest in a Christian Community
Another tough reality is that we can’t fight the darkness on our own. We need other brothers and sisters to fight with us, and that’s exactly what happens when you join a Christian community.
So many former students have talked about how their community changed their lives and helped them maintain their faith throughout college.
This year might look a little different, but various ministries host a ton of back to school events where you can meet other Christians and get a feel for the Christian community on campus.
These can definitely feel a bit intimidating at times, but if you can push through the awkwardness of meeting new people, you will quickly meet new friends you can grow with throughout your college career.
- Find a Mentor
Christian community can expand beyond your peers as well. It’s super valuable to have older folks help you along the way as mentors.
You see this all throughout the scriptures, right? Elijah raises up Elisha. Jesus leads his disciples. Paul invests in Timothy. Having a more experienced person speaking into your life helps you see what Christ has in store for those who persevere.
You’ll usually find these people within a local church or campus ministry. You might even have multiple, which is totally okay. One might be an upperclassman who has recently gone through the things you will deal with. Another might be a full on adult who can show you what steadfast faith looks like beyond college. Either way, these mentors can teach you different things than your peers because they’ve been where you are and have gotten through it.
- Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself
With all that goes on in college, it can be easy to neglect your wellbeing, but Christ wants us to take care of our physical bodies as well.
This means that you might need to prioritize things you never really thought about much before like sleeping patterns, eating habits, and stress levels. When not monitored, all these can affect your physical and mental health.
Now, don’t get me wrong, you’re going to be busy. You will probably cram for finals and stay up all night writing a paper at some point, but the less often you can do these things, the better. Establishing habits for going to sleep at a reasonable time, monitoring what you eat, exercising, and getting your work done on time can go a pretty long way, but it’s so easy to let them slide.
Another valuable rhythm is a weekly sabbath. It will definitely feel counterintuitive at times, but God put it in place for a reason. We need to rest and rejuvenate.
- Work Hard
This might feel like a straight up contradiction to number 4, but the two can actually work together.
You can’t forget that God has led you to your current context. Right now, he has made you a student, and you have an opportunity to steward your time well. This doesn’t mean that getting A’s is your only option. It just means you should take seriously the work God has placed in front of you right now.
If you get a good schedule going, working hard can actually reduce stress because you won’t freak out at nearly missed deadlines or test dates. Stay on top of your work so that you make the time to rest well, too.
- Look for Ministry Opportunities
Are you feeling nervous about going to campus? Are you stressed out about COVID-19 and the civil unrest in our country? Are you angry at the injustice and division surrounding us?
So many students feel this same way, but there’s one major difference.
They do not have the hope of Christ to hold on to.
Christian students have such a unique opportunity on campuses, especially this year, to minister to their peers and offer them the hope that only Jesus can bring. So many people will be looking for answers. Idols have been crushed over and over again in 2020.
God wants to use you to help your classmates and friends find truth.
And you know the best part?
He won’t make you do it alone. He is with you on your campus, in your dorm room, and at the coffee shop. His Spirit will empower you to reach others.
This probably won’t happen overnight. Some may not see results at all, but that doesn’t change your mission.
In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus gives his disciples what Christians call the great commission:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
This is the call for every Christian: to live as sent creatures on a mission to make disciples. God himself is with you as you do this, and he will not abandon you.
Starting or going back to school always stirs people up. This year has some added weirdness, but prioritizing these 6 things can prepare you for a college career that embraces the abundant life Christ offers.