Congratulations! You've just graduated from high school and are going
off to college this fall. Fine. More than half of the nation's high
school graduates are going to college these days, so watch out you don't
get trampled as you head out for those ivy halls!
get to my age you may note the appearance of a bulge at the equator and
the disappearance of some foliage at the North Polar Region. Perhaps
you'll understand then how some of us older citizens feel this
compulsion to give advice to the young. It's sort of like the instinct
of the salmon to fight his way upstream and spawn before he dies. Well,
actually I'm not that old. I'm about half way between the age for whom
"rock" is a kind of sound made with musical instruments, and the age for
whom "rock" is the primary daily activity carried on with the use of a
chair with runners on the legs. But folks my age have more advice for
the young than a hippy has hair.
could give you a lot of it, I could. But if you are a young Christian, I
only have one word for now. When you go off to college, put the Lord
first. Specifically, how?
assume you have already chosen your college and the general curriculum
you will study. You have already decided, perhaps only tentatively, upon
a career you will pursue. If you put Christ first in making those
decisions, if you picked a profession in which you can faithfully serve
Him, then you're the one I'm talking with.
go off to college this fall, locate the nearest faithful congregation of
God's people. (If there isn't one near the college of your choice, you'd
better think again about the wisdom of that choice). Your preacher will
help you locate the church nearest your college. Now before school opens
this September, take your family and go visit that congregation. Get
acquainted with the brethren there. If you don't have your own car in
college (many colleges do not permit freshmen to have cars on campus),
make sure the local brethren will provide you a way to services if you
can't take a bus or find your own way. They'll be glad to help.
brethren for an opportunity to serve in that church. They'll know your
time will be very restricted while you are in school, but they'll
appreciate it if you are willing to lead singing, wait on the Lord's
Table, lead in prayer, help out-in the nursery, etc.
expect the brethren to entertain you while you are in their community to
go to college. Let's hope they will have you to their homes occasionally
even often but remember that you are there to serve, not be served.
Expect the local church to give you the opportunity to serve.
time permits, visit some of the sick in the church. Visit some of the
aged. Nothing so encourages the aged as the sparkle of youth. When you
get homesick, go encourage the lonely. You'll be surprised what it will
do for him -- and you.
course be faithful in church attendance. It's an awful temptation to
miss services because of school work. Sometimes it can't be helped. You
may have a class or seminar at night which unavoidably may prevent your
attending the local gospel meeting. But watch out that you don't begin
to rationalize absenteeism. For the most part, if you plan your time
wisely, you can still attend services and get up your assignments, write
your themes, and hit the books. And that goes for cramming for those all
important exams, too! And I know it can be done. Why, I went to school
so long that my professors began to wonder if I would graduate first or
retire first. My friends said that I was a professional student! And --
if you'll permit this old salmon to flop a little -- I never once missed
a service of the local church in all that time because of school work.
You may have to, I'll grant that. But if I were a gambling man, I would
bet a quarter to the hole in a doughnut, that with a little wise use of
your time with very, very few exceptions, you won't have to.
don't have to tell you to be careful of your companionships. You know
don't allow your faith to be shaken. If you have been grounded in the
faith by God-fearing parents and by a concerned church back home, you
probably will come through fine. The extent to which your faith may be
assailed will depend in part upon the course of study you major in, the
attitude of your professors (some will be kindly tolerant of your
convictions, but some will not), but it will depend mostly on the
training you received before you went off to college. But the primary
assault upon your faith will be of a social, and not an academic,
character. You'll likely be far more sensitive about what your fellow
students think of you than what your professors think of you. If you
lose your faith--if you really had it to begin with--it will be because
of pride. So be humble in your acquisition of knowledge. Or it will be
because of social and intellectual conformity. So be independent! It
takes a greater measure of independence and personal freedom to be a
Christian than to lose your faith. You can lose your faith by not
standing for anything.
why I urge you to be faithful to the Lord’s church in the college town.
You'll keep your bearings always if you're associated warmly with God's
people. If you run into problems, talk it over with them. The local
preacher will be more than glad to help. And don't forget your brethren
back home. They haven't forgotten you, and they are praying for your
didn't intend to write so much. And I certainly don't intend to make
college sound so scary to a young Christian. The danger of going off to
college to a young Christian isn't really all it has been "cracked up"
to be, in my opinion. The real danger is that your earlier training in
the home and in the home congregation has been neglected. Oh, I pray
that this is not the case with you.
go to your chosen university you should find a Christian to contact on
or off campus, so you'll be among brethren and friends. As I suggested
earlier, your home town preacher can locate such contacts, or you can
write to other Christians.
going to college this fall! Remember, "The fear of Jehovah is the
beginning of knowledge." (Prov. 1: 7)
way. Your real problems begin when you graduate from college. Maybe I'll
write an article on that topic four years from now!
some small edits to make the article more current – LWR)
MAGAZINE - July 16, 1970
A Letter to a Son Going to College
Remembering our Creator in Our College Days
It Is What It Is
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