With graduation approaching swiftly, I have started to seriously reflect upon my college career.
Though I am grateful for what has happened here at the greatest university in the nation, I sure wish that I had made better decisions as a young man learning how to follow the Lord. Don’t get me wrong, failures can often be a means of grace to help us grow and the Father is gracious to redeem our mistakes, but I implore you to learn from mine. If you still have time left in college, this one is for you. Here are 4 things that I did poorly in my undergraduate years and how I would have done them differently.
1. Not Loving My Neighbor (And Roommates)
The Lord blessed me tremendously with great community and with godly men immediately when I arrived at Texas Tech. Through my fraternity, I found some of my best friends which would eventually become my roommates! As you would expect, everything went well, right?
Having roommates (even some of the most Jesus-loving ones) can still be some of the most stressful, irritating, and nerve racking experiences of one’s college career. Sinners living with sinners can be messy. The smallest situations would manifest themselves in many ways, but the most common was in the form of (you guessed it), the dishes.
Living with 4-5 people, they stack up fast if unattended. We hand scrub and are responsible for our own dishes and when dishes of another roommate would increase, all of us who were not guilty would become extremely frustrated. As our anger burned, so did our self-centered desires and frustrations. Maybe he didn’t murder our siblings; but surely we’re somewhat justified by the overwhelming smell of crusty, week old dishes!
We let silly things such as taking out the trash and dishes get in the way of our love for one another. If we were to get technical here as Christians, it was our sins that Jesus died for on the Cross even though Christ was sinless. It was Jesus that loved us first despite our rebellion (1 John 4:19). I failed at being this reflection to my roommates. Jesus did the hard, unmerited work of washing my dirty self clean through the cross, the least I could do was wash the dirty dishes. He frees us to be sacrificial in all things, including loving others and showcasing this example even in the smallest things.
2. Making Mediocre Grades (And Just Getting By)
College is hard, but obviously doable. Coming from high school with a high GPA made me feel as if I could breeze through college with no problem. Sadly, this was one of the biggest lies that I believed my freshman year.
The more I became involved in ministries and church, the more I pushed school to the back burner. I developed an unbiblical perspective of school work, separated work and worship. My grades and class attendance fell quickly. My GPA was so low after my first semester, that I was put on academic probation! It wasn’t until someone who loved me called me out and explained how my lack of care in class reflected what I believed about the Lord.
– Because of my poor attendance, I disrespected my teachers who are in authority over me. By disrespecting them, I disrespected the Lord who appointed them.
– Because of my lack of intentionality, I misrepresented Him to my fellow classmates who may not have known the gospel. By misrepresenting Him, I showcased a God who doesn’t have a mission or purpose for us here.
– Because of my apathy towards my education, it revealed my unappreciative heart towards a good gift such as an education. By ungratefulness for His gifts in my life, I didn’t really believe or show He was truly good.
Little did I know that I could worship and enjoy the Lord by stewarding the blessing of a college education well.
3. Not Maximizing My Singleness (And Bathing In Jealousy)
No matter how much I was told that singleness was not a disease by church pastors and close friends (who were all in serious relationships or married), that did not change the fact that in Lubbock, the college-aged person lives in a culture where marriage is idolized. Among the perpetrators of placing this gift above the Giver, is me.
Believe it or not, singleness is just as much of a gift from God. Instead of walking through the whole “Jesus and Paul were single” talk, here’s another helpful fact: 100% of your time used for the Lord Jesus is not wasted. Not one single second.
There were days where I would ponder about relationships and waste my time burning with envy against even the closest of my friends and their relationships. Another statistic that I learned was that the opposite was true, 100% of the time that I do not use for the Lord is wasted. Not only did my singleness expose my broken perception of my worth in Jesus, but it revealed my selfish heart. I am thankful for the redemption God is doing in my heart with this area, but I sure do wish I could redeem the time I wasted.
4. Doing Everything Under the Sun (And Not Resting)
Some of the most joyful experiences from college have come through the gateway of campus organizations and volunteer opportunities. These can help the community, but hurt the individual.
I remember the Spring of my sophomore year I was a team leader for a camp, pledge captain for my fraternity, leader of a youth group, and leader on a youth spring break trip. This sounds like a bomb resume, but behind every busy schedule is a soul coping with something deeper.
I realize now that I did some of these things to seek the approval of God and man, forgetting that I already have God’s approval through the work of His Son and man’s approval is a trap. This hectic pace hurt me in the long run, especially with my physical health and as I mentioned earlier with my previous commitments like school. I didn’t get enough rest because I was trying to rest in the false identity of the good deeds that I did.
Instead of making fans, I should have been producing more disciples. Focusing on the few, instead of the many. The great speaker, Billy Graham once said,
“I think one of the first things I would do would be to get a small group of eight or ten or twelve men around me that would meet a few hours a week and pay the price. It would cost them something in time and effort. I would share with them everything I have, over a period of years. Then I would actually have twelve ministers among the laymen who in turn could take eight or ten or twelve more and teach them. I know one or two churches that are doing that, and it is revolutionizing the church. Christ, I think, set the pattern. He spent most of his time with twelve men. He didn’t spend it with a great crowd. In fact, every time he had a great crowd it seems to me that there weren’t too many results. The great results, it seems to me, came in his personal interview and in the time he spent with the twelve.”
The Supremacy of Jesus
As you can see, I am broken. He gave us minds to think and lungs to breathe. We return these gifts with a heart that wants nothing to do with our Creator, that elevates our kingdom over His own. But I am beyond thankful that we serve a God who loves to redeem!
In Romans 5:8, Paul tells us that “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” and in Colossians 1:20 saying that “and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross.” We see that Jesus is in the field of restoring broken things and making them new (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Though I wish that I could have done more with my time in college, it’s evident that the Lord has placed me where I’m at for a reason. I am now equipped to love my roommates better, do excellent work, be confident in my identity, and rest in the Lord even more than before! Please do yourself a favor and learn from my mistakes, and don’t waste a second of your college career!