It’s my least favorite time of year again. It’s the time to stop going to the beach every weekend, put down your summer reading list, put away your game controllers, your movies, and cancel your Netflix subscription. It’s a time to take your vitamins, to stock up on Ramen, and install new locks on your doors so that you can find some privacy. It’s time for the summer curtains to fall away to reveal the true antagonist of this year like too many villains in too many Scooby-Doo episodes: The winter semester. It’s time to go back to school.
But before I embark on my little kayak and brave the class five rapids of Worldview and Apologetics and the swirling eddies of Gospel and Culture, I like to take a step back and remind myself how to paddle, how to traverse the semester and come out the other side for the better–understanding Jesus and His story even more so that I can better submit my life to Him.
From one super senior to other fellow Bible college students. Here are a few tips I learned along the way:
- Don’t do all your homework. No, I’m not trying to get you in trouble, and I’m not trying to get myself fired from my volunteer position on this blog (can they even do that?). Here’s the thing, Bible college is rough. It’s a lot of tough work. My first few semesters of college, I found myself struggling to keep my head above the waters of homework. As a result, I became more excluded from my church, cut back on my ministry hours, and became a social introvert because I concerned myself with doing my homework–the reading, the questions, the papers, and the projects–so that I could get a 4.0. But it wasn’t worth it. Bible college, especially Eternity, is meant to push you closer to the Church so that you can better serve the Church, but I pushed closer to homework and farther away from the Church. Hear this: It’s okay to sacrifice your grades a little bit in order to maintain your ministry. Don’t go overboard and get C’s in all your classes, but balance school with ministry. Church and ministry is the main priority, not Bible college; certainly not a 4.0.
- Rest. Take it from someone who’s extraordinarily bad at resting, who’s a workaholic. You need rest. God created humans to need rest. Work hard, yes, but take at least half a day (preferably a whole day) a week to pursue interests and hobbies unrelated to school or work. Maybe you want to do some personal reading or maybe you just want to spend time with other people. Maybe you even want to just catch up on Stranger Things or just sleep. Burning yourself out physically will burn you out mentally and emotionally, which will also burn you out spiritually. Two years of constant work made me enter my third year of Bible college stressed and unresponsive to the beauty of the gospel even though I study it every day. You need rest.
- Stay away from fast food. This past February when I moved in with my current roommates and we went across the street to Taco Bell to get breakfast burritos, I knew I made a bad decision. Fast food is convenient, it’s relatively cheap, and it’s easy. So when you’re in the middle of the grueling Foundations paper while working full-time and leading the youth ministry at your church, it’s easy to defer to fast food. But you need energy during your semesters, not Taco Bell. Fast food leaves you bloated, it’s not as healthy, and it’s less than practical nutritional value leave your body more prone to sickness and fatigue. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but stay away as much as possible. It takes more time to cook for yourself, but not only is it a good skill to learn but it will also save you money and help you have the energy to do your homework and serve in ministry. Chick-Fil-A can wait.
- Keep doing your personal devotions. Don’t let your studies replace what you and God have going on right now. Eternity is great, and you read the Bible a ton, but Eternity is also (ironically) temporary. Form good spiritual disciplines now instead of relying on school to do it for you. If you’re disciplined in your spiritual life, you’ll be more disciplined in your school life as well. Maintaining a personal devotional time apart from Eternity also allows God to speak to you freely instead of always in the classroom.
Remember this: Eternity is meant to to equip you, to train you in righteousness, and produce students who serve like their King served them. But Eternity is merely a piece of what God has prepared for us to do. Don’t stress. It’s not the end of the world even though it may feel like it sometimes. And above all, keep your eyes on Jesus.
You can also check out my personal blog at http://aspiringtheologian.wordpress.com
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