At this time of the year, I remember being in high school and seeing everyone rejoicing, boasting or being anxious about receiving their acceptance letters from the university they applied to. It was a remarkably interesting time as life was serving me a heavy bowl of responsibilities, and as a pre-university student, I had to lick my lips, positioned my fork in hand, and eat away, even if I didn’t like it. It was a time where I had to evaluate my financial position and make decisions that would propel me forward towards a path of tertiary education immediately after high school. However, amidst these worries, I will never forget a bit of advice given to me by a dear friend and a mentor, “Life at university can either do two things; build your faith or destroy it”. Of all the advice given to me, whether academic or financial, this was what I treasured the most.
Tertiary education can be a very eye-opening phase in one’s life. At university, our convictions and sense of self are often tested. We are often challenged to prioritize meeting the academic, financial and social obligations of university life above everything else. So how can I navigate such an environment as a Christian? What should my ambitions be as I prepare to commence tertiary education?
In Mathew chapter 10 versus 16, After Jesus summoned his disciples and gave them specific instructions concerning the sharing of the good news, he told his disciples to be shrewd as serpents and as harmless as doves. “Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as serpents and as harmless as doves”. I believe such advice can be applied to your own lives as you prepare for tertiary studies.
Wise as serpents
Wisdom is often measured by how well we apply what we know. However, true wisdom starts and is sustained by a fear of the lord. There will be a lot of nuggets tugging at your heart at university. To be honest, most, if not all, will pass the logical test; but always endeavor to believe in God’s word whether it contradicts the main ideologies of the program you are planning to study. Do not be afraid to reject fallacies in your program; as doing so does not guarantee that you will be less professional, adept or invested in it.
Also, Be alert to the many devices of the enemy. As stated earlier, the academic, financial and social demands of university life can be overwhelming. People do a lot of sketchy stuff to meet these demands and the temptation to join them must never be underestimated. However, there is no shame in trusting Jesus. The predominant culture at university is one of self-reliance, but Jesus is our friend, provider, and most importantly, our Lord. His ability to meet our needs is second to none. Abiding in this hope will help you to resist the temptation of cheating, prostitution, wild partying, drug usage and stealing a little bit more.
Harmless as doves
University can be a very cut-throat environment. Only those who are in line with the university’s academic standards and financial obligations will matriculate to the next level. This tempts individuals to be selfish, envious and greedy. Students will do all they can to gain an advantage over their peers to get scholarships, internships or establish connections that will help them in their careers. You can’t blame them because that’s what the world teaches us to do.
However, this doesn’t have to be your reality. The central theme of our faith is to love God and our neighbours. Be encouraged to love your batchmates and living mates who you probably have never met prior to University. Roman chapter 12 verse 21 encourages us not to be conquered by the evil around us but conquer evil with good. Bless those who hate you and always be prepared to do good for anyone in need. You would be surprised with the number of students that are attending university with little to no food, struggling academically or just simply lacking a clear direction for their lives. Always be prepared to assist them.
Does our commitment to Christ guarantee a smooth university journey? Absolutely not. I spent most of my advance years (years 2-3) owing tuition. I was one of the tardiest students as it relates to the submission of assignments. In my final year, I had to spend nights at the library to save cost on transportation, as I was a commuter. My friends were few, but they were all I needed. I did well academically but not well enough to be on Dean’s List (Honours list). But God kept me. I never gave up on being obedient to God and He provided for me to the end. I found Joy in loving and sharing with others. There were some bad decisions made, but it was far less when compared to a life of constant disobedience. God has been good to me, and He can do the same for you.
So, don’t be afraid to trust Him; don’t be afraid to love others like Him; don’t be afraid to reject fallacies and stand up for truth; don’t be afraid to persist in obedience to his word; don’t be afraid to be a harmless serpent.
Akeel Henry is a prisoner of hope. He enjoys sharing the hope of Jesus Christ with all individuals. He is currently a trained biochemist who aspires to become a medical doctor and pastor in the future. He believes that the secret to contentment is a moment by moment dependence on God’s grace, power and provisions.