I was flying to Dallas to put on an event for my new job and I pulled out my Moleskine mid-flight. While I felt cliché writing the words, I forced myself to write the words “What I learned in 4 years of college:” on one of the pages. As I stared out the window as we soared above the clouds, I tried to look back over four years of college and boil down the most important lessons I learned so I could share with others who were about to enter college, are in my same shoes, or need to be reminded. I jotted down a list of 13 on the flight. In no way is the even close to an exhaustive list, but, as I look over them, they define some of the most important moments of my college experience. While it is all to easy to write endless posts about each statement, I do not want to get lost in the meticulous explanations of rationale that led me to think why I do. I want to offer just enough structure and guidance for you to find yourself in my experiences, in hopes that something I have learned may resonate with you and offer a new perspective to view this season of life. Enjoy.
- People will walk in and out of your life. [Read]
- Know who to hold onto and who to keep open-handed. [Read]
Get involved in a local church.
This was the one of the lessons that took me a while to learn and understand the benefits. While I know the “Why” in my head, I did not fully understand the “Why” until I experienced it. Church shopping is inevitable the first year of college. Trying to find a community that you believe in the mission, connect with the people, and grow in your relationship with Jesus is a daunting task. The temptation of a college student is to live in the mode of church shopping rather than putting down roots and plugging in. Four years, in the grand scheme of life, is not that long; so the question is raised, why invest in a local church? I am not going to debate the differences between campus ministries and the local church. What I do want to advocate is getting plugged into a body of believers who genuinely care for one another, authentically love the people in their city, and passionately pursue Jesus with everything they have. Notice I have used words like “plugged in” and “invest” not “attend” or “go to.” I am not encouraging the consumer mindset that is so rampant in American church today (i.e. What can I get fed today? What can they do for me?). Church is not about showing up; it is about being involved. It is knowing people’s names and people knowing your name. It is serving the body by using your gifts and allowing others to serve you with their gifts. It is being excited about what your church is doing in the city and seeing the city benefit from the influence of your church. It took me almost two years to find a church like this after bouncing from gathering to gathering. To be honest, it was not all flowery and perfect. It was ugly and messy. It took God really doing a work in my heart for me to open up and get involved. It took a lot of courage and even more humility to start investing. But, as a result, I have never seen God grow me more with other people than I did when I plugged in at Athens Church for the last three years. Do not waste time trying to find the “perfect church,” because they do not exist. Stop looking, find a local church, and go all in. You do not have time to do anything else; it is that important.