Graduation season is here again, and students, especially seniors, feel the pressure as they take finals, finalize summer plans, nail job interviews, and prepare to enter the mystical realm called “real life.” It’s an exciting yet slightly terrifying period as they walk across the stage into a new world of possibilities, hopes, and dreams.
A year ago, I was that senior with grand visions of what my future would hold. I was also the senior who, even after 4 years of classes and lectures, still had much to learn. Throughout the past year, God has taught me (and is still teaching me) several lessons that aren’t taught in classrooms.
Post-college life can be lonely at times, so be intentional with your relationships.
If you’re a dorm student, you are constantly reminded of being surrounded by other people. You overhear loud conversations in the stairwells, inspect roommates’ messes in your room, and, yes, sometimes you even smell funky scents in the halls that alert you to the presence of other humans. Because of these unpleasant reminders, many dorm students eagerly await the day when they no longer have to put up with so many people in close proximity.
When you graduate and move back home or to a place of your own, you will leave behind one of the biggest social scenes you’ve experienced. Your closest friends won’t be two doors down when you need to tell a quick funny story or a deep spiritual hurt. Meaningful friendships take time and effort, so be intentional with relationships old and new. Cherish and invest in established friendships, and don’t be afraid to ask that friend you just met out for a coffee.
Get involved in a local church right away.
One of my most significant regrets from my college years is that I didn’t get involved in a local church. I went to church every Sunday for four years; and every Sunday for four years, I sat down in the pew, listened to the sermon, and left when the service ended. I came to be served rather than to serve.
I didn’t realize how many blessings I was missing until I graduated and returned to my home church. For the past several months, I have been helping to teach a Sunday school class for a group of Chinese students who are learning English. Every Sunday, I see them grow in their understanding of idioms and pronunciation and, more importantly, God’s love for them. I’ve taught them some English, but they’ve taught me much more about developing a loving and giving heart.
God has gifted you with talents. Use them to serve others, build the church, and glorify Him. (1 Peter 4:10, 1 Cor. 12:4-11). Rather than looking for a church that fits all of your personal needs and preferences, look for a Christ-following, Bible-preaching church where you can fill needs to exhort other believers.
Marriage is not a prerequisite to your usefulness in ministry.
Christian universities, advertently or not, put pressure on their students to find “the one” with whom to spend their life of ministry. This emphasis is often so strong that students graduating without a spouse, fiancé, or prospects of either feel like failures. They believe that they won’t be useful until they’ve found their marital ministry partner.
In actuality, singleness can exponentially increase your effectiveness in ministry. The single Apostle Paul agrees, “I wish that all were as I myself am” (1 Cor. 7:7). A married man or woman has divided interests between serving their spouse and serving God (1 Cor. 7:33-35). The Christian single can more fully devote his time, money, and energy to following Christ. For example, if a mission team needs someone with your skill set, you can volunteer without first checking your spouse’s calendar. When the church takes a benevolence offering for an evangelist, you can give generously within your means without fretting over your family’s grocery money.
To the college senior who feels useless without a wedding ring, you’re not. Your usefulness to God is based not on your marital status but your willingness to serve.
Make your faith your own.
I grew up in a Christian home, went to a private Christian from preschool to senior year, then attended a Christian university. I memorized my older brother’s Awana verses and sang “Jesus Loves Me” before I could recite the alphabet. I consider the biblical principles that my parents, school, and church instilled in me great blessings. But my background of faith did not save me, and my membership in a strong Christian community does not ensure a personal relationship with my Savior.
I’m afraid that too many people my age haven’t experienced worshipful fellowship with their Heavenly Father. They claim Christianity because they were “raised Christian,” but this surface-level knowledge is the extent of their faith. They don’t intimately know the One who loves and died for them.
If that’s you, you’re missing out, but it’s not too late to change. From now on, set aside time daily to read God’s Word. Along with your Bible reading, pray. Through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we have a mediator who intercedes for us (1 Timothy 2:5). We have access to the Sovereign Lord and should never take that undeserved privilege for granted.
As I mentioned earlier, relationships take work, and who deserves your intentionality more than Christ? I encourage you to count the cost of discipleship (Luke 14:25-33) and choose Jesus, not because of familial or societal pressures but because you can’t imagine a life without Him.
So, Senior, I hope you will take a recent grad’s advice and learn these lessons sooner than I did.
I also hope you took thorough notes. There will be a quiz tomorrow.