To keep up with the increasing pace and demands of our current society, students are studying harder and placing greater emphasis in extracurricular activities on campus, often sacrificing and putting their social and family life on hold.
An overload of work may cause some people to neglect a well-balanced and healthy diet, as well as foregoing the luxury of any regular exercise. In general, life gets more complicated with age, and many struggle to find meaning in their busy lifestyles.
As Christians, our spirituality is an additional dimension to our life. More concretely, it should be a part of our daily living in which we allocate time to cultivate and nurture our faith. As a religious education teacher, I see and hear about many youths struggling with the same issue of seeking spiritual meaning in their student life.
Having been through this same issue, I have learned that it is crucial to understand basic biblical concepts early on to help guide, shape, and discipline our lifestyle. When youths can fully grasp and gradually put these principles to practice, their faith will steadily take root and mature.
The following are five major concepts and tasks that have guided me toward a more fulfilling Christian lifestyle in my college years and beyond:
- Recognize our commission from our Lord Jesus Christ
- Evaluate our goals and values
- Manage our time effectively and efficiently
- Entrust our burdens to God
- Give all glory to our Heavenly Father
Recognize our Commission from our Lord Jesus Christ
As the “chosen generation, a royal priesthood” of God, we are commissioned by our Lord Jesus Christ to spread His gospel to all and pastor His sheep (I Pet 2:9, 5:2; Mk 16:15; Jn 21:15-17). This is first and foremost commission we must recognize as His chosen people.
Since we have received the grace of His salvation so freely, it is only natural for us to proclaim His name, His salvation, and the boundless grace and blessings that follow when we believe.
This does not mean that we all have to become fulltime pastors to complete God’s mission. If we can be reminded of this commission in our everyday lives, however, our lives would be more meaningful.
For example, during our studies, whether we are in junior high, in college, or in graduate school, we can seize every opportunity to testify for our Lord Jesus Christ to friends, teachers, or even strangers on our campus.
We should not dwell solely in our studies for the sake of achieving a higher education or obtaining a good career but think of school or our job as avenues of opportunity given by God for us to sow the seeds.
I can never forget an encouragement that a brother gave me before I entered college. He told me to remember two things: (1) evangelism is not very difficult-we just need to pray and ask God to bring His sheep to us, and (2) students can do a lot of evangelical work within college campuses.
I kept his words in mind and prayed accordingly, and his words miraculously came true! God brought many of His sheep to me and allowed me to share the complete gospel with them.
God helped me sow some seeds and, under His guidance, a few seeds blossomed into diligent and devout brethrens in our church. Praise the Lord!
Through all this, I learned that, as long as we have the heart and determination to spread the gospel and know to put it into our daily prayers, God will surely help and guide us.
Evaluate Our Goals and Values
Once we recognize our commission from our Lord Jesus Christ, it should help us establish a clearer goal for our life. This allows us to center our priorities around God, which in turn, helps us focus and find meaning in all we do.
As Apostle Paul reminded us, let us “glorify God in [our] body and in [our] spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor 6:20). Therefore, our goals and value system must not be conformed to this world, which only gratifies the lust of our eyes, the lust of our flesh, and the pride of life.
All these are transient, but “he who does the will of God abides forever”(1 Jn 2:17). As we reflect on our own goals and values, we can ask ourselves this question: Do our goals and values glorify God and edify men?
For example, we should examine the motivation behind choosing what we are planning to select or have selected.
Our motivation may be valid, positive, and beneficial to our society, but does it include the glorification of God? Would the major and/or career path chosen (i.e. work environment, time commitment, nature of the work, etc.) negatively affect our spirituality?
And would it be an obstacle to our faith and/or overload us with too much work that we do not even have enough time to cultivate our spirituality?
Manage Our Time Effectively and Efficiently
Time management is an important key to an enriched Christian lifestyle. This is often a very difficult challenge for youths and even for mature adults.
Learning to manage our time effectively and efficiently requires our sensitivity to time, recognition of our priorities, and discipline in our lifestyle. For example, we should have some daily “spiritual habits” (i.e. reading the Bible and praying for a set time) and “secular habits” (i.e. regular bedtime hours, brushing before and after bedtime, eating regularly, etc.).
If we just live from day to day with a whatever-goes or whatever-happens attitude, it is very unlikely that we can achieve a victorious Christian lifestyle that pleases God.
Let us not slumber and idle around, for poverty will “come on you like a prowler” and “casts one into a deep sleep” (Prov 6:9-11, 19:15). But just as Jesus told His disciples, we must “watch and pray, lest [we] enter into temptation” (Mt 26:41).
Moreover, Apostle Paul exhorts us to be diligent in our pursuit of spiritual maturity, “to make [our] call and election sure, for if [we] do these things [we] will never stumble” (2 Pet 1:5-7,10).
Entrust Our Burdens to God
We all can admit that our flesh is weak but our spirit is willing. By the same token, we may have Biblical knowledge but lack the power to follow the will of God. This is why God promised to direct our path if we trust in Him and consult Him before every decision we make (Prov 3:5).
God wants us to learn to cast our burdens on Him so that we may find peace and rest in Him (Mt 11:28). But in order to cast our burdens on God, we must learn from the humility and gentleness of Jesus Christ (Mt 11:29).
Only when we realize that everything comes from God can we humble ourselves to rely on Him. And only when we have the gentleness that accompanies patience can we wait on the Lord. As a result, our strength shall be renewed.
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. (Isa 40:31)
Therefore, let us learn to trust in Him and cast our cares upon Him, so that we may not grow weary in our spiritual pursuits.
I once was involved in a campus fellowship group, of which I was very honored to be a part. All the students in the group were zealous in doing holy work. However, some local believers not part of the campus fellowship were weak in faith at the time, and we, the students, tried to find ways to help them.
After some time and numerous attempts at encouragement, things had not improved nor moved forward for these local believers. Gradually, we began to complain to one another about the situation.
But one time, a sister stood up and reminded everyone to remain humble and to entrust this matter to God in our prayers. After she said this, I immediately realized that the Holy Spirit was awakening our hearts from self-righteousness and pride.
From that time on, we began to put this matter into our daily fasting and prayer. Slowly, we began to see the wonderful work of God evolve before our eyes. This was truly a vivid and valuable lesson I learned during my college years. Praise God!
Give All Glory to our Heavenly Father
When the work is done, whether great or small, let us remember to give all glory to our Heavenly Father. Again, we should acknowledge Him not only at the beginning but also at the end of each completed work.
This way, we are constantly reminded that it is through God that we are able to do anything. So, how can we give glory to God? One simple way is to give thanks to God in our prayers or to make more offerings (e.g., our time, money, talent) to show our appreciation.
Let us check and balance our priorities with the lifestyles we lead. Does the secular part of our life outweigh our spiritual life? The Bible warns us that if we put our emphasis in this world over our eternal salvation, we are considered to be the “most pitiable” among the believers (1 Cor 15:19).
Be comforted in knowing that if we seek God’s kingdom first, He will bless us according to our physical needs.
May we all continue to encourage and help one another in our path towards the heavenly kingdom. And may we strive diligently to submit to the Holy Spirit and rely on its power so that we can lead a meaningful Christian life.