College ministers play an important role in preparing students for their lives after college. Make a list of the things you want your students to know about their faith before they graduate. Keep it somewhere where you can look at it every day. This will help guide your interactions with students during all of their college years.
Here are some examples:
You matter to God.
It is important for students to know that they matter to God. 1 John 4:19 says, “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”
Every college senior should leave college knowing that God will not abandon them for the mistakes they’ve made or any flaws they have; his love is constant. Jesus actively sought out those who felt like they didn’t fit in. As college students prepare to begin their post-college lives, it’s important for them to know they aren’t doing it alone.
Discomfort is how you grow.
Navigating young adulthood isn’t easy. But it’s important to remain open to new opportunities and experiences. Encourage students to embrace aspects of their faith that might be challenging or uncomfortable. True strength comes from a healthy relationship with discomfort.
It can be hard to make time for prayer as responsibilities grow: jobs, family, mortgages, etc. Encourage students to make prayer a daily habit before they leave college, so that it will be easier to continue this habit as they age. It is also likely they will face experiences in their adult lives that could lead to wrestling with doubts. Share stories of answered prayers with them, so they will remember to trust God when things go wrong.
The Israel of the media isn’t always accurate.
Israel is a critical part of the Christian heritage. It is mentioned over 2,000 times in the Bible, and yet most Christians have never been there. On top of this, media bias and partisan politics make it virtually impossible for young American Christians to get a real sense of the modern state of Israel.
It’s one thing to read about the events of the Bible; it’s another to literally walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Encourage students to visit the Holy Land before they leave college, so that they can enter their adult lives with a full understanding of modern-day Israel and how it connects to the roots of their faith.
Jesus didn’t stand for bigotry.
By exposing students to many different perspectives, we help them develop an informed, compassionate, understanding of others. Talk to students about making friends outside their faith, race, ethnicity and other circles. If we want to combat bigotry, we need to start instilling acceptance and tolerance in our younger generations by encouraging them to step outside their comfort zones. There is a vital need for dialogue today among people of different religious, racial and regional backgrounds, which starts with a thorough understanding of one’s own history and heritage.
The world needs Christian leaders.
College graduates often start out at the bottom of the totem pole in their new jobs, and it’s easy to feel like your views don’t matter. But they should never forget that in time, they will be the world’s leaders. This world needs more informed, compassionate leaders who are grounded in their faith. We need leaders in politics, business, medicine, education and more who have an awareness of and appreciation for foreign cultures, a service mindset, and an understanding of the teachings of Jesus.
Seniors who have an understanding of these six things will be far better prepared to enter their post-college lives with confidence, direction and peace.