Knowing God’s Will: Choosing a College (#2)
For most Christian students, choosing the college or university they will attend is one of the biggest single choices they will make in their young lives. In my last blog, I discussed some of the common mistakes students fall prey to when making their decision. In this blog, I will offer some suggestions to help students and families align their choice with God’s will. (This list isn’t exhaustive, but hopefully helpful).
Priority #1: Seek to Honor God
Two verses that I frequently turn to during times of decision making are Proverbs 3:5-6:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Trusting God, by acknowledging our dependence and submitting our hearts and minds to Him is the foundation of seeking God’s will. I do not believe it relieves us from the responsibility of still trying to make good choices, but it frames our decision process in the larger commitment to trust and follow God.
Similarly, Jesus promises that those who “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” will have “all these things” (e.g. needs for livelihood) provided by God as well (Matt. 6:33).
Priority #2: Think Stewardship
Stewardship is when one person manages the property and affairs of another person in accordance with the wishes of the other person (i.e. the owner). This concept is relevant to all Christians as our lives are a stewardship we have been entrusted with by God. As created beings, we do not “own” anything, including ourselves. Therefore, we need to see the development and living of our lives as a stewardship for which we are responsible.
In this mindset, we need to ask “What has God entrusted to me?” The answer to which include: our strengths, passions, bodies, minds, families, weaknesses and limitations. The better we know ourselves, the better we will be able to be effective stewards with our lives. Similarly, we need to ask, “What values does God want me to live by?” Since our lives are not our own to do whatever we please, we are wise to ask God how He wants us to invest our time, energy and resources. This includes where we go to college and what we major we choose.
The good news is that, God is generous with His stewardship in that we are invited to enjoy the privileges and benefits of what we have been entrusted with. God delights to bless us so that we might be a blessing to others. We simply need to trust that God’s ways are better than what we could come up with on our own.
Priority #3: Exercise Wisdom
Wisdom is knowledge applied rightly. In this era of abundant information, wisdom remains of great value, because too much information can be as limiting as having too little information. So, what wisdom is most critical to college-bound seniors and their families?
- Make “Learning to Learn” your goal. It’s been said that more than 1/2 the jobs and knowledge required for employment in four years hasn’t even been discovered or invented yet. Gone are the days of learning a single trade and staying in that role for life. Becoming an effective learner is the best preparation for present and future success. This includes identifying your preferred learning styles and leveraging them for personal success.
- Develop self-control. Research has shown that those who learn to delay gratification (i.e. deny a momentary pleasure for a long-term gain) are significantly more successful, happy and healthy. This is developed by exercising one’s body, mind and spirit. Saying “yes” to health and “no” to excess is a skill nearly everyone needs strengthening.
- Choose growth. College is about expanding one’s horizons and discovering what one is capable of. Take risks, stretch yourself and learn from failure. Make friends with people different from yourself and discover your own passions and beliefs. God created us to grow and develop, so when choosing a college, look for one which will help you grow in a supportive environment.
Remember to Rest in God
Lastly, remember that as you seek to honor God with your decision about college (and any other decision that follows), you have a Father in Heaven that loves you and wants good for you. Your identity as a beloved child of God is secure (even when you don’t feel it) and God is eager to lead you forward into the odyssey of adulthood. Be generous with your life because God promises to provide all that you need as you love Him and love others.
-Dr. Dave Zovak
Odyssey, ISC Leadership Specialist