The college environment is very unique.
People are here to reach their goals in life and to discover who they are, with one foot in adulthood and the other still in childhood. We want to have fun and get the most out of our last few years of teenhood, but we also want to do well academically and create a good basis for our first few years of adulthood.
The result is an environment of immature people with the lifestyle of adults and the mindset of teenagers, completely consumed in our own worlds and trying to figure out why we are here and what in the world we are supposed to do with our lives.
The danger in this is that we become extremely self-consumed. Everything becomes about us and our pleasure. We cannot serve others, or even God, until our lives really “start” (after we graduate).
If you have ever been on a college campus, you have probably seen the implications of this attitude. College students tend to be very negative people; we complain a lot, we procrastinate a lot, and we think that our lives are super hard. As Christians, though, we do not have to be subject to this culture and this attitude. It is not honoring to Christ and it does not benefit our future as servants of Him.
The negative attitude and self-focus of college students is a serious problem. But we as believers can make a difference by reflecting Christ in the way that we live in college.
First, we can have a positive attitude.
Being a positive person comes naturally to some people; for others, it’s a struggle. As representatives of Jesus, though, regardless of our natural tendencies, we can reflect His influence in our lives by having a positive attitude. It’s raining again and I have to walk to class in the freezing, wet weather at 8am? I should still be smiling and thanking God for another day. I have an assignment due at midnight, a headache, and class in the morning? I should be thanking God for the opportunity to get a good education. Having a good attitude is hard, but imagine what a difference that we as Christian college students could make if we had a God-honoring attitude amidst the inconveniences of college life.
Second, we can be diligent.
Getting our homework in on time, doing our best in everything from our jobs to our ministries, and investing selflessly in our relationships can really make a difference in how we represent Christ in college. Finding a college student who is not flying by the seat of his or her pants is very rare. Planning well and being a good steward of time is yet another way to be different in the college culture.
Third, we can have integrity.
We can do all the reading when the professor requires it. We can participate in cleaning and work responsibilities without cutting corners. Like C.S. Lewis says, “Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.” What areas of our lives can we reflect Christ simply by doing the right thing?
Fourth, we can be selfless and respectful.
Treating others, including difficult professors and peers, with selflessness and respect can be one of the most difficult challenges in college. It’s so easy to become consumed with ourselves and our feelings and forget about the perspectives and needs of others. One of the biggest ways to represent Jesus in college is to treat others as He would treat them.
As believers, we cannot succumb to the college culture of negativity and selfishness. By staying true to these four things and consistently studying God’s Word, we can make a difference in our schools and honor Christ in doing so.