Some years ago, I came across an amazing discovery. It seems many Christian parents were worried about their kids going to college. It seems they have heard horror stories of children walking away from God; after they went to college.
However, I didn’t have such an experience. My experience is the exact opposite. Did I go to a conservative college or a Christian college? No, i went to Stockton State College and it’s a liberal state college.
It was a great place and it proved to be the right place, for me. Amidst the parties and education, I found faith in Jesus and much more. Contrary to popular myths, colleges are not dens filled with monsters.
How did I manage to maintain a faith in God? How can I help you and your children? I would like to offer some suggestions that may be of help to you and your children. College does not have to be a spiritual nightmare. It is quite possible to be a Christian and survive college. It may well be that your faith is strengthen; as opposed to diminishing.
For one, my parents raised their sons as nominal Catholic Christians. As a child, I enjoyed reading my Bible and I had also talked with God. Church was simply not a part of my life and I didn’t see the value of going to a local church. Keep these three facts in mind, for they are keys to what I’m sharing with you.
I went to college and I had no clear directions, for my study. I simply wanted to use the computer and it was 1983. Desktop computers were just becoming popular and it would prove valuable to my own future.
Unfortunately, computer science made for a poor choice as a career and a college major. I was terrible at math! Simply put, I had a longer stay at college then I expected. It was a good thing, though. In my first semester, I took a very important class called “Critical Thinking”. Professor Josh Cabot didn’t know it
Professor Josh Cabot didn’t know it, but he gave me a very important tool. It’s actually a fine tuning of what I learned from my father. “Don’t forget your brains” would be a good way to put one of his point. Critical Thinking is not a refusal to believe or consider something. Rather, it requires that you listen and you check things out.
Have you heard of the Bereans? You should read Acts 17:11-12 and you’ll get a whiff of critical thinking done in a right way. Here’s what happened:
11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.
The Bereans didn’t just sit there and believed everything. They were open-minded and they were not afraid to check things out. Critical Thinking requires that you ask questions and check things out. Does that sound like a skill you can use in college? Let’s take this, a step further.
The Bereans were willing to learn something new. Yes, they examined the Scriptures; however, it was not to disprove Paul and Silas. They just wanted to see, if Paul’s words are true. There is a world of difference between the two.
How can you teach your children? The skills that I developed to examine Scriptures are the same skills used for Critical Thinking. Ask questions and check the source materials. It was my readings of Josephus that lead to my understanding of 2 Samuel 5:6-8! I didn’t know the city of Jerusalem was built into a mountain
I didn’t know the city of Jerusalem was built into a mountain. I never gave thoughts to the very real reasons for the huge army used by Titus, King Nebuchadnezzar and the king of Assyria. Today, I have a much greater appreciation for God has done for King David. No wonder the guy mocked David.
Do you see how Critical Thinking helped in the above? The same principles applies in college. You can also learn to apply it on the news stories circulating on the Internet. In college, you are definitely going to need this skill and good study habits. Don’t blindly go along with everything that you hear!
Here is the next tip and it plays right into the above tip. In college, it is real easy to get distracted. It can get worse when it is time for midterms and exams. I still recall the stress related to my studies and the need to hand in those papers.
For this reason, I would encourage you to put aside time for prayer. Here’s an idea and it is something that I could have done at Stockton University. At Stockton, there is a beautiful lake and some nice walking paths.
Walking and praying are a great way to reduce stress and a healthy heart. Get out of the dorm room and go for a regular walk. As you are walking, I’d encourage you to talk with God, the Father.
Anxiety is a terrible burden for many college students. For this reason, 1 Peter 5:7 says to “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Who is Peter talking about? Jesus. Don’t be afraid to give your concerns and issues to God. At the same time, I would encourage you to listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to you.
Yes, God does care about your studies at college. Unlike our natural parents, God is able to help you in your studies. The Holy Spirit knows how to direct you to the right place. You simply have to be open to his leading you.
As for the walks, you don’t need to worry about being seen. Most college students have a smartphone or a phone capable of using a Bluetooth earpiece. They may well think that you’re talking to someone on the phone. I got this idea from a friend, at church. By the way, it helps to pay attention to your surroundings.
Here is another useful tip and it’s one that I’ve done. One of the best way to reduce stress is to read for fun. Today, I would include listening to audiobook. Guess what book I’m going to suggest for fun reading? I know of a great book that is filled with great stories and it’s worth reading, multiple times. It is called the Bible.
There is a time and a place for the serious study of Scriptures; however, there is also a time and a place for just reading. It’s very easy to get an audio version of the Bible, these days. You can listen to it when you do your daily walk. The key is, you need to relax and enjoy listening to the Word of God.
You won’t be the only college student that does this. Plenty of students listen to music or favorite books; as a way to counter stress and anxiety. Did you catch the part about “not being alone”? It is true and it is quite possible to find other believers on campus.
You can find out by checking the roster of clubs on campus. You can also check to see if a local pastor or priest is working there. In Phoenix, I found out that my church’s associate pastor taught at a nearby state college. You never know, who you could run into.
At Stockton, there was a weekly church service held in different places on campus. If I recall, it was done in an ecumenical fashion. At best, it is a great way to meet other Christians. There is a reason that fraternities are popular. It’s not just the party. It’s also important to have support from your brothers and sisters.
What about the issues of doubts and it eating away at your faith? At college, I had plenty of things that came and challenged my belief in God. It is to be expected and your faith is going to get challenged outside of college, too.
Doubts speak of questions and unbelief is a refusal to believe. At college, Christian students are going to get challenged and one’s response is often key to growth. How are you going to respond the questions being asked?
Will your questions caused you to seek God, for answers? Will it cause you to go deeper in your understanding of Scriptures? It is okay to say, “I really don’t know. Can I get back with you?” If possible, you can do some research and share it. A Christian Apologetics group can be helpful in finding the right answers.
What about college professors? I never allowed a college professor to negatively define my faith in God. At the same time, I respected their views; even if I disagree. This view lead to some good conversations with two atheist professors. One professor was surprised that science didn’t diminish my joy in the Lord. If anything, science was doing the exact opposite!
If you are a parent then you should definitely read the following. I know that is very difficult to see your children go off to a college and you really can’t physically be there. My mother was prone to anxiety and she thankfully didn’t know too much about college life. My father did have some ideas; as his brothers graduated from college. In other words, I do understand your concerns.
You could try calling your son or daughter; however, it is not always possible. If you do manage to talk then I’d suggest that you merely listen. College is quite stressful and it is easy to get overwhelmed. Give a listening ear and be a voice of encouragement. For them, it is hell on Earth and a kind word can be a fountain of life.
There is one other item that you can do, as a parent. It should be pretty obvious. Pray for your children; as they are away at college. It is also why I suggested listening to your children. Ask the Holy Spirit for insights on how to pray for them. You would be surprised by what can happen. It can also make for interesting phone or email conversation.
Let’s wrap this up. College should not be a place of dread and anxiety for Christians. Rather, it should be seen as an adventure. An adventure that filled with learning and the potential to meet interesting people. It’s also a place where you can impact the lives of others. Yes, it goes both ways. Like any good adventure, college has its dangers to face and problems to overcome.
Guess what? You may be surprised at the unexpected help. God has a funny way of bringing the right people into your path. I never expected to get some pearls of wisdom from an Indian mystic. Need I say anything more?