It’s that time again. A brand new flock of college freshmen are moving into dorms, buying college textbooks, meeting roommates and kissing mom and dad goodbye, all for the first time.
I can remember how I felt the day I moved into my freshman dorm. I remembered being thankful that I was so busy that day because if I hadn’t been, I knew I would most likely cry as soon as my parents left, and they only lived 20 minutes away from where I was attending school.
There are so many words of advice I have to offer to college freshmen about how to maintain a proper workload, get involved in on-campus ministries, make good friends and take care of themselves, but at the forefront of all of that advice, I would say: know what you believe and “stick to your guns.”
It’s true, college is a place full of many different religions, worldviews and ideals. In my lifetime, a college classroom is where I’ve heard some of the most far-out beliefs. This is why I say know what you believe, but also, be willing to listen (there’s a difference in listening and agreeing with) to what other people believe as well.
“I will show you what someone is like who comes to Me, hears My words, and acts on them: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. When the flood came, the river crashed against that house and couldn’t shake it, because it was well built.” (Matt. 6:47-48)
In this passage of scripture, the Lord is talking about having a firm foundation in Him by comparing a house built on the sand or on a firm, rock foundation. This is very much the case with college and knowing what you believe and standing by those beliefs.
Storms of many shapes and sizes are hurled at college students. External storms come from professors and peers, loudly proclaiming that the Bible and its contents cannot be true. Internal storms come when lack of sleep hits, when you bomb a test, or when you get lonely, missing the familiar things of life that you’ve known for the past 18 or so years.
This is why being prepared is imperative. I recently read a blog that discussed why it is that college freshmen are turning from Christianity at such an alarming rate. In the blog, the writer cites a study done by Robert P. Putnam and David E. Campbell saying, “Young Americans are dropping out of religion at an alarming rate of five to six times the historical rate—30-40 percent have no religion today, rather than 5-10 percent a generation ago.”
Another study I found states, “With each year of education, there is a 15 percent increase that the students will believe that there’s ‘truth in more than one religion’ and believe in a ‘higher power’ rather than a personal God.”
Stunning statistics like these cause me to not look at younger generations with disdain and blame them for the downfall of mankind. Inversely, they cause me to look at myself. I ask myself the question: “How have I taken time to prepare those I know who are facing such a critical time in their faith?”
A college freshman will soon learn about resources, if they haven’t already. Most papers I wrote in college required four-to-five resources. I recommend that college freshmen have spiritual resources. If you don’t already, have two or three people on stand-by. These people need to be people you look up to spiritually, that you know will challenge you and be hard on you if necessary, but love you regardless of how you may fail, because chances are you will fail. This is why you need to have these Godly resources there and ready to pick you up by the bootstraps and correct your path, should you divert.
I tell all of the incoming freshman I know and love through our college ministry, until I’m blue in the face, to come to college prepared, and come with your mind made up about what you believe.
It’s not if your faith will be shaken in college, it’s when. Since I’m on a cliché roll, here’s another: Those who fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Be prepared for when storms from the enemy come at you. No storm is too big or too scary for those who stand firm in their foundation of Christ, the solid rock upon which we stand.