I love working with high school students. I love helping usher them into adulthood. I love pointing them towards Jesus. I love playing video games and Magic: The Gathering with them.
I don’t love seeing them graduate, though. After spending so many years with them, it’s sad to see them go. There’s also a lot of anxiety, wondering whether or not they will continue to pursue Jesus after they graduate.
As our seniors near graduation that anxiety is starting to build. I love our seniors and so desperately want to see them keep loving Jesus, pursuing him wholeheartedly in all that they do.
So here are some suggestions for how to stay committed to Christ in college.
Find Christian Friends
If the people we hang out with follow Jesus, then we will follow Jesus. If the people we hang out with don’t follow Jesus, then we won’t follow Jesus. All of my friends and former students who strayed from Jesus in college didn’t surround themselves with other Christians. We shouldn’t trap ourselves within a Christian bubble but the people whom we allow to influence us, the people whom we allow to speak into our lives, should love Jesus. The people to whom we’re closest will influence our behavior the most. We need to make sure that those people will influence us towards Jesus and not away from him.
Serve at a Church
I found Christians with whom I could surround myself by serving at my church. More than anything, serving in youth ministry has kept me committed to Christ and it has done the same for so many of my friends. Almost all of my friends and former students who graduated and began serving are still committed to Jesus. Serving at church puts us around other Christians and also keeps us busy doing good. My small group leader in high said it’s hard to do bad when you’re too busy doing good. For me that meant serving in junior ministry but for others it could mean serving in any number of ministries. The ministry doesn’t matter as long as serving in it keeps us committed to Jesus.
Establish Spiritual Disciplines
For so many Christian adolescents, growing up means separating their faith from the faith of their parents. I grew up in a Christian home and, at some point, had to decide if I wanted to follow Jesus of my own volition or just because my parents wanted me to. By God’s grace I made the decision to follow Jesus and haven’t regretted it once. One of our leaders had the tremendous suggestion that establishing personal spiritual disciplines helps us to make our faith our own. Our parents may have made us go to church or youth group, but most parents don’t force their children into spiritual disciplines. If adolescents can establish their own spiritual disciplines it can go a long way in making their faith their own.
I love our students so much and want to see them love Jesus. Not because I think they should do what I do, but because Jesus is the best. A life fully committed to Christ is the best life possible and I don’t want our students to miss out on that.
What, if anything, helped you stay committed to Christ in college?