The word “thrive” has been a theme in my spiritual life, writing, and teaching for the last few years. I have a whole category of posts on this blog about the basics of thriving as a Christian. But when I started college, I wasn’t sure it was possible to thrive as a college student. College is a rushed blur of classes, homework, and work while still trying to prioritize time with God, relationships with my family, and a social life. With so much going on at once, it seems next to impossible to thrive in college.
As the months have passed, however, I’ve learned that it is possible. This is not to say that I have achieved this in any way, but I have learned some ways to thrive, even despite the chaos. As the definition above says, to thrive is to simply grow vigorously. College pushes us to our limits, so why not use it as an opportunity for growth?
As with all of my posts about thriving, the first key to thriving in any situation is having a daily quiet time with God. Life in college is incredibly fast-paced, and it can be easy to let this habit fall between the cracks. Don’t. It is impossible to grow without consistently reading the Bible and spending time in prayer. For more tips on these things, check out my previous series on thriving. If you do nothing else to thrive in college, spend personal, daily time with God. You will never regret it.
The second tip I have for thriving in college is to sit down and write out your priorities.
Many college students have a terrible disease that I like to call “yes syndrome.” We get involved in way too many things, resulting in us not being able to give our all to the things that matter the most. I love this translation of Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with your whole being, for the Lord and not for men” (BSB, italics mine). If we are to do everything with our whole beings, than we are obviously are incapable of doing everything!
Many churches are hesitant to invite college students into ministry because we are known as unreliable. What a poor testimony to our peers, authorities, and even our communities! We are only human–it is impossible for anyone to thrive when they are overwhelmed. The best cure for this epidemic is to cut down on the many things that we do. Make a list of the top three or four priorities in your life, and see if all of the things you do check out with these priorities. It’s okay to get rid of some good things in your life in order to pour your whole being into the great things God has for you.
For me, this looks like color-coordinated pens, planners, sticky notes, and a whiteboard. For you, it may be an app on your phone, a simple notepad–whatever works for you. You don’t have to be type A to plan ahead. But if we know what’s going on and when, we can do our very best in everything just as God commands. I do not believe that it is His desire for us to be constantly stressed. Thriving and stress are not good companions. At the same time, we must be flexible enough to allow our plans to change when God wills them to. As long as we are not too religious about it, planning can be a great tool as we seek to thrive in college.
Realize that your life is NOW.
So often our perspective in college is “someday.” Someday we can serve God as we long to. Someday we can be consistent in Bible study and prayer. Someday we can start living the life that we want. Just as soon as college is over, life will start. This is so untrue. “Someday” is today. Our lives have already begun, and each moment is another opportunity to serve God. As college students, we cannot live acting like our lives have not yet begun.
Get involved in ministry.
It’s very easy to become self-consumed as a college student. Getting involved in ministry forces you to pull the focus off of yourself for a while and onto serving others. You would be surprised how blessed the local church can be when a few young people show interest in serving in their ministry. We have such an opportunity to be a blessing to those around us, as long as we are willing to take our focus off of ourselves and onto what God has for us.
Take care of yourself.
Eat some veggies, sleep enough, and drink water.
We are now adults and are responsible for taking care of ourselves. The choices we make about our health now will affect both our present and our future, so they must be honoring of the body God has given us and the opportunities that He provides to serve Him.
These are only a few things that we can be doing as college students to honor God with our whole being, to grow vigorously—to thrive. We will not always be perfect in these things. Realistically, some days it’s all we can do to simply survive; however, this attitude should not define our entire lives. In the next few weeks, I will write about more detailed ways that we as believers can thrive in the various areas of our lives, from relationships to jobs and ministries. I want to hear your opinions too! Please comment below how you have learned to thrive in your life, or (even better) join our Facebook discussion here!
We are not just students, employees, sons or daughters, and friends–we are Christians, and we can honor God in our various contexts by thriving in everything that we do.