I am preparing to preach at our first youth meeting of the year at our church. School started for all levels (grade-school through college) on September 1. Many of the people involved in our youth group are college students so we want to use this “back to school party” as a chance to invite many believing college students. Many of the attendees will be first year students, away from home for the first time in a “big city” so they will need lots of help adjusting to city and college life.
We want to use this event to share life truths with them so that they will make proper decisions during their first few months of college, decisions that will have a positive impact on their lives. I pray that this lesson will be helpful to them (I wish someone would have shared this with me during my first year of college).
I. During the first few weeks, you will make new friends (everyone does) the question is, what kind of friends will you make?
The Bible is such a relevant book because It gives relevant advice for every aspect of our lives. It is not an old book to read for “old people” who have already lived life. It is a fresh book that is helpful for every generation. The first truth comes from the Apostle Paul, a righteous man (correct in the eyes of God) who was surrounded by unrighteous people (people who did not obey God). Here is advice he gives when making new friends.
Do not be deceived : “Bad company corrupts good morals.” Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning ; for some have no knowledge of God. (I Corinthians 15:33-34)
If you want to have a successful college career and prosper in this life then you must realize that the type of friends that you make will influence who you are as a person and the choices that you make. If you choose the wrong friends, people who do not know God, then they will corrupt you and lead you down the never ending path of sin and destruction. How many young men and women leave a good home, get to college, and fall in with the “wrong” crowd, leading them to make bad decisions that end up ruining them for life? I have seen it happen with my own eyes. Choose your friends wisely. Seek out people who know God and are obedient to Him. If you are going to be influenced by others, then you need to be influenced by the right people. Find a good church. Get involved and find a small group Bible study. God explains the importance of choosing the right friends in Proverbs, a book of wisdom. He explains the following . . .
Heart, in this text, means “mind”. Out of the mind flow the events of your life. If you choose wise friends who will feed your mind with good things, then you can expect good things to come as a result. If you choose friends who will fill your mind with the Word of God then you will have correct actions and prosperous results. If you choose friends who will feed your mind garbage then you can expect to see “garbage” come out in your actions which brings about unpleasant results. You get to choose the action but God has already established the results.
II. Hang out in the right places.
The friends that you make will also influence the places that you go, outside of your classroom. You will not spend all of your time in the classroom and in your dorm room studying. There will be times when you will leave to “enjoy” yourself. You will have a social life which will involve going places. The places that you go will influence who you will be. The Bible addresses the idea of being careful where you go in the book of wisdom, Proverbs, and specifically in chapter 7.
6 For at the window of my house I looked out through my lattice, 7 And I saw among the naive, And discerned among the youths A young man lacking sense, 8 Passing through the street near her corner ; And he takes the way to her house, 9 In the twilight, in the evening , In the middle of the night and in the darkness.
Notice a few things about this description. The person is naive, untested or in other words, without experience. That is a good description for most first year college students. He does what he does at night (probably influenced by some bad friends). He goes to the place where he will meet other “bad” people, which lead him to bad actions and extremely unpleasant results. A modern translation of this text would be that he takes the way to the disco. I have witnessed many young men and women who have made poor choices while being influenced by bad people at the disco (the club). If you are a wise girl then you will avoid places like this (unless you want to be associated with immoral women, “prostitutes” in the context). Your “prince charming” on a white horse is not going to be found at a disco. If you are a wise man then you will also avoid places like this because the girls that you meet there will treat you like the woman treats her husband in this passage. As soon as he leaves on a trip, she is in the streets looking for a “victim”. Is that the kind of wife that you want in the future? Instead of hanging out in places where you will be influenced by evil things, go to place where there are people who know and fear God. Find a good church that has a collegiate ministry and get involved. Get involved with a small group Bible study with people your age. Go places where you will be challenged to become a better person, not immoral and corrupt.
III. The way that you begin your college career is usually the way that you finish it.
If you seek to party and live “loosely” during your first year of school then chances are, you set a pattern for how all of your years in college will unfold. If you do finish, you will not finish to the highest of your potential. You will regret it one day too. At the moment it may not seem like a big deal but later in life as you reflect, you will say things like, “I wish I could do that over again because I would do it so differently the second time around”. I do not want you to say this so make the right decisions the first time. Learn from the mistakes of others and also from what the Word of God teaches on this subject. You will greatly appreciate it later.
IV. Plan your time well.
Usually when discussing with college students, I get one of two responses on the question about time. 1) I am bored because I never have anything to do (usually the first year students) or 2) I am too busy. I do not have time for anything. These two groups of people have the same problem. They do not plan their time well. The Bible teaches us that we are to be good stewards (managers) of our time. All of us have been given the gift of time. We all stand on equal ground when it comes to time. We have to choose how we spend our time wisely. Here is what the Bible says about the person who does not use his time wisely and does not plan well.
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16)
The man who wastes his time is called “unwise” or a “fool” in another translation. We can use our time wisely when we plan well. The Bible encourages us to plan because God is a good planner. II Thessalonians 3 gives clear teaching on living a disciplined lifestyle and planning your time.
The people who never seem to have enough time usually fall into the trap of being a “busybody”, always working but never really accomplishing much. That is usually because the person is not planning and evaluating what he is doing. He is just busy doing. There is a joke that sums this lifestyle up. “There were 3 state workers who were in charge of planting trees, one would dig the hole, another would plant the tree, and the third would fill in the whole. One day the boss came to check on them and found one man digging a hole and another filling in the hole. When asked what they thought they were doing, the two men replied, the tree planter is sick today but that does not stop us from staying busy”. You can occupy yourself by digging a hole and filling it in but what do you accomplish by doing this other than being a busybody? As a student you need to plan the following things and delegate sufficient amounts of time to each of them.
- Class time
- Study time
- Personal hobby
- Personal exercise
If these are all well planned then you will find that you will have enough time during the day. If you plan then you will be able to evaluate your plans and see where improvements need to be made in the future. One of the most important ones for a college student is sleep. Most do not get enough of it and the effects are not seen right away because of the youth factor. You are young and your body has a high rate of resistance. But, like all other things in life, if you abuse your body for an extended period of time then there will be negative consequences.
V. Be wise with your money and trust God.
God has promised that if we seek a personal relationship with Him then He will reward us by meeting our needs (not our wants). You do not have to worry about having enough to eat, having what to wear or where to sleep because He will provide all of these things. When He does provide, then you need to appreciate the source (probably your parents) and be grateful. Use the money for your education so that your parents investment in your future will not be in vain. I have a friend who, before becoming a believer, used to live in an endless cycle of sin. He would not have food to eat starting on Monday and would have to “survive” the week. On Friday, his parents would send money. He and his “friends” would go out drinking and blow all of the money for the next week. He would feel bad on Saturday and Sunday, starving on Monday, and ready to do it all over again the next Friday. That is not being wise with money at all. It is a good thing that he repented or his parents “investment” would have gone to support local bars instead of their son’s future. He now has a good job and wonderful family because he learned this lesson, although it was the hard way. Not all learn it though. Many cannot get out of the cycle once they fall into it. Avoid falling into it from the beginning and you will have no problems.
VI. Be respectful to your teachers and parents during this crucial period of your life.
The Bible says that we are to honor those who invest in us. First and foremost, we are to honor our parents. It is the first command given by God that comes with a promise. You can honor your parents while in college by living according to the good upbringing that you received from them (home training as we like to say). Show the world that they raised you right by doing the right thing. Choose good friends. Go to good places. Plan your time well. Use your money wisely. All of these things show that you were raised right and that you honor your parents. Do not forget to communicate with your parents and go to see them now and again. Secondly, honor and respect your teachers by going to class, paying attention, and doing what they require of you. Try to befriend your teachers and do not be afraid to ask them for help when you need it. That is what they are there for.
I hope that as a college student, you will take the advice of the Word of God and make wise decisions while in college, so that you can enjoy your time and use it efficiently, leading to a prosperous life. May God bless your obedience to Him.