My journey to University was pretty uneventful – I attended the University that was literally just across the road from my school. And, because my Father lectured there, I had been there with him many times before.
But it was also a huge moment. It was the time when I was free from home, free to make my choices, free to find out about life, free to do my own thing. It was a time when I could have made massive mistakes, a time which I could have looked back at with huge regrets, a time when I could have started down life pathways which could have been a disaster. But, in God’s grace, it was a time of great memories, wonderful friendships, growing faith, and seeing the extraordinary work of God, all of which positively shaped the rest of my life.
Having been ‘on the other side’ (as a University Lecturer and Director of Studies) as well as a student (twice), and a Dad of students, I guess I have a unique position to advise on how to prepare for student life. So what is my advice?
I’m going to take you to Daniel. He was taken to a place far from home to study (Dan 1:3), he was one of the academically able, specially selected to go (Dan 1:4), he was undertaking 3 years of study (Dan 1:5), and he was in a place where he would have his identity in God utterly challenged by where he was (Dan 1:7). But Daniel brought God glory and his life impacted many for the Lord because:
Daniel brought God glory and his life impacted many for the Lord
1. He resolved to live for God (Dan 1:8)
Even though he was far from those who knew him, Daniel knew that God was with him. He loved God above everything else and so wanted to live for Him, even if that meant being different from those around him. Christians in Sport have a saying: “Audience of 1”. Their life is about living for God’s glory, not for their own. For Daniel too, his life was about living for God, being pleasing to Him. You will have many choices to make. Choosing to live for God without compromise is vital.
2. He used the opportunities he had to stand for God (Dan 1:8)
Student life gives time – time as you study with others in the same course, time as you live with other students, time in leisure and time which you can set aside for God (both church and CU). God tells us that He has already purposed the things He has for us to do for Him (Eph 2:10) in every area of life, and He has opportunities ready for you to walk into and use for Him.
3. He trusted God when things looked difficult (Dan 1:11-14)
Sometimes as we stand for God we will have to face difficulties. God is not unaware of these difficulties and is sovereign over them – He leads us into them so that we can learn more of Him and what it means to trust Him. University is an amazing time when we start to see God at work even when things seem difficult, to walk in His ways even when everyone else seems to be doing something else.
4. He worked so that his results would honour God (Dan 1:17-20)
You are at University to get qualifications. Your commitment to live and work for God includes trusting Him for and applying yourself in your studies. It is in your time at University that you learn how to give time to God, to your friends and to your study. It is there where you start to see how He enables you in your study as you make time sacrificially to serve Him (v17).
University life is a time of preparation for life beyond University. All of those things we see in Daniel’s three years preparation are things that are central for the whole of our life. In your University years you can set the direction for the years to come – a life lived for God.