9 Tips to Help You Keep Your Faith In College
The University setting can be a very harsh environment for Christian students. According to Kara Powell with Sticky Faith 6 out of 7 high school seniors don’t feel equipped with faith that prepared them for college. Secular ideologies are overwhelming on many college campuses. Professors and counselors inundate students with ideas that are strictly opposed to their Christian faith. Some professors may openly challenge your faith, dorm-mates won’t be interested in learning why your convictions differ so much from theirs and classmates aren’t interested in learning a Christian view on a subject – they just want to pass the class. Your faith needs to be a pretty solid part of your life for it to survive the barrage you may experience at college. Developing a solid faith that won’t waiver starts way before your senior year, but it’s never too late to intentionally develop your faith. As you prepare for college (whether you’re still in middle school, or you’re planning your dorm room color scheme) we want to provide you with these 9 tips.
Remind Yourself of God’s Presence
God’s presence in your life doesn’t always seem exceedingly apparent. When you’re feeling good, you typically feel close to the Lord, when you’re feeling down or struggling with your faith, you may feel distant from God. When entering a campus where God may not be welcome, it’s essential that you remind yourself regularly that He is real and He is present. This is a hard task, because He exists in Spirit and is invisible to the human eye. So, place solid reminders throughout your environment that help you keep your focus on the Lord. For example, set your Bible, journal or devotional in a location where it’s regularly seen. Frame your favorite scripture and hang it on the wall over your desk. Place a decorative cross over your mirror. Designate a particularly beautiful tree that you walk by on the way to class as one clearly crafted by God. Though these reminders are small, they can make a significant impact on your faith as you journey through college life.
Find a Christian Community on Campus
It’s essential that you get plugged into a Christian community the first week of school. Be intentional about finding a community that complements your personality and your view of God. If you’re more conservative, then find a conservative campus group. If you have more liberal views, than find a Christian group that enhances your belief. If you like big contemporary church services, then find a ministry that offers this type of weekly service. If you enjoy small groups, then connect with a group of like-minded students. It’s important to find a group that will provide Biblical teaching, but finding friends in whom you can identify and relate is also relevant. Consider having a roommate that shares your faith so you have consistent support. Don’t shy away from intergenerational communities. People in various walks of life can provide profound insight and support. You need people in your life who understand you because of your faith.
Connect with Family Regularly
If you ventured away for college, then it can become very easy to feel isolated and disconnected from the world that was once familiar. This isolation can be detrimental to your faith. Satan wants to make you feel alone. Set up a regular time to call your family every week. Be sure to tell them what God is doing in your life. Share you’re struggles and ask for prayer. If you have a good Christian friend that attends a different university – text, message or email her scripture verses every week. Gathering scripture to share will help you make a regular connection to the Word and she’ll probably need the uplifting reminder as well.
Connect with God
Do pray before every test. Journal between each chapter you read in your History textbook. Read one verse of scripture after every Calculus problem you solve. These are tiny acts, that take a minimal amount of time, but they can make a significant impact in your faith development.
Add an Extra Assignment
Your homework assignments pile up, as well as other commitments and responsibilities, but it’s important to add something into your life that will bring you closer to God. Consider assigning yourself a new scripture verse to memorize once a month. Add the scripture as an assignment in your planner and work on it a little bit every week. By the end of the month, you’ll have a new verse to cling to when times become really bleak.
Put doubt, fear and hopelessness in its place
God is not a God of fear, doubt, stress or hopelessness. When your world seems to be crashing around you, remind yourself that God is greater than any of these feeling and that they’re not from Him. Cling to hope. Place truth in your path: God is always good, He will always prevail, and because of Him you’re strong, capable and beautiful. Give your doubts, fears, flaws, etc. to the Lord. He will mend them and care for you in great ways! Let the Spirit of God remind you that you’re not alone. He’s with you in the midst of all your pain and frustration.
Set a Schedule
No, setting a schedule doesn’t have anything to do with your relationship with God, but it also has everything to do with your relationship with God. You don’t need to be rigid and strict if that’s uncharacteristic, but you can’t let the temptation to experiment with new things, skip class or sleep in pull you away from what’s really important during this time of your life. You’re in college to further your education, learn more about who God made you to be and prepare for your future career. Find a place on or off campus where you can focus on studying, set a class schedule that works with your lifestyle and set frequent time aside for God. Engage with outside school activities that encourage a routine rather than overwhelm you or stress you out. By maintaining a steady routine, you’ll feel calm, present and prepared. Set stress, frustration and other unknown factors aside enabling you to tune in to your personal self and spiritual needs.
Self-discipline is difficult, but we all instinctively know its value. The yearly tradition of making New Year’s Resolutions is an example of our desire for discipline. When we’re in a new or unfamiliar environment, self-discipline is especially difficult. A routine can help make self-discipline easier, but the real strategy to gaining self-discipline is practice. It takes time and daily awareness. Slowly integrate it into your life by setting small goals. For example, if you want to go to the gym five time a week, be satisfied if you make it once a week for a couple weeks. Working your way up to your goal.
You are not the only person who is affected by your decisions. It’s easy to reason that no one else has to deal with the consequences of your actions. For example, you believe that if you skip class, you’re the only person who has to manage the repercussions. But, in reality, the act of missing class has the potential of impacting multiple people. It’s incredibly relevant in college to have a friend or a series of individuals who can hold you accountable. Not only can these people keep you accountable for your actions, but they can also be confidants that you turn to when you’re struggling. A roommate is a great person to utilize as an accountability partner, especially if they’re a fellow Christian, because they intimately know you. Be open with these people and let them speak wise and introspective thoughts into your life.
Let us know what you’re looking forward to most about college as well as what may frighten you about your future ahead. We’re excited for your journey and want to pray for you. Email us, message us on Facebook or #KeepTheFaith.