College is exhausting. From the endless cycle of classes, studying, and caffeinating to the effort poured into relationships to the crammed-in edges of a social life and extracurricular shindigs, college tends to whittle away at your stamina and sanity. Wedging a little relaxation into the equation helps, but it doesn’t really alleviate the mountain-climbing burn of the college experience.
Sometimes it feels uphill the whole way.
With this stretched-thin perspective in mind, I would love to share something that I learned during my junior year—something that completely changed my college experience.
Until then, I was making a tremendous mistake. It was gift-wrapped in one little lie I had subconsciously believed for a very long time.
This was the lie: College is about me.
A Degree in Selfishness?
Waltz on to any college campus, and you’re likely to discover that every student is on a mission to fulfill his or her personal degree goals so that they can move on to wherever they want to go and make the paycheck they want to make and become who they want to be.
College can be a selfish place.
Your education is important, and developing the passions God has given you is a beautiful and obedient thing, and college is an exciting season of life. But don’t make the mistake I made.
When I look back on my college experiences, my favorite memories are not my personal successes. My favorite memories all fall under the category of what I gave to people.
And isn’t selfless giving the pattern the Bible prescribes in the first place?
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus (Phil. 2:3–5).
But if we are going to give, we need a right motivation behind our giving. If we give for the sake of duty or for the sake of being seen, we’ve missed the whole point! The mind of Christ is a mind of love.
Motivated by love, we give.
If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing (1 Cor. 13:3).
Giving always requires sacrifice of us, but it often repays a far superior reward. Whenever I sacrificed precious time, money, or energy as a college student, I found investing in eternity incomparable.
- There was a trailer park, and on Saturday afternoons we played with happy, barefoot kids from broken homes and told them about Jesus.
- There was an older woman I raked leaves for one morning, but I ended up sitting in her kitchen sipping coffee and talking and laughing over scrambled eggs and toast every week.
- There was a student who wanted nothing to do with me, but when I made a persistent effort to befriend her, she opened up. We spent hours talking about life, and I was able to share Christ and the gospel with her multiple times.
- I had new roommates each year, each of them so different from me—each one of them so worth getting to know, to love, and to pour into.
College is an endless opportunity to give.
Live as a Giver, Not a Taker
Many college students are takers. They snatch up the prime bunks in the dorm rooms. They swarm to all the free Chick-fil-a breakfasts. They take the best study nooks at Starbucks. They find all the fast-food freebies. They sign up for the easiest research paper topics first. They steal your shower time and your laundry quarters.
And if we’re not careful, that self-serving mindset spills over into every area of life.
Sweet college student, you be a giver.
I know you don’t have much time to spare, but at least spare a smile and a “how are you?” that you truly mean.
I understand that eating with your friends is more convenient and less effort, but why not invite the lonely girl who sits beside you in class to lunch today?
I know you’re having a bad day, too, but consider asking the girl wearing her bad day on her face if you can do anything to lighten her load.
I get it. You need to be somewhere right now. It’s like your teachers think you have two brains, seventy-two-hour days, and only their class to pass this semester. You’re tired. You’re hungry. You’re busy.
But so is everyone else around you.
You can be a source of hope in their life today. You can be the love, kindness, and grace of Jesus to them. Let Him use you, even in the tiniest ways. Simply look for opportunities to love.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34–35).
A Crash Course in Investment
During the fall semester of my senior year, God imprinted one specific word on my heart: invest.
This word, a verb, compelled me to seek out opportunities to pour myself out for other people. It compelled me to say “yes” when the thing asked of me was inconvenient or unenjoyable. It compelled me to focus on serving others rather than defaulting into a self-serving survival mode.
In 2 Corinthians 12:15, Paul says, “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.” Spend and be spent.
College girl, let that be the prayer of your heart and mind today.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
- Have you seen college selfishness in your own heart?
- How can you spend and be spent for someone else today?
From the LYWB.com team: Hey, readers! We hope you enjoyed this post from a pretty cool guest writer. We just wanted to drop in and remind you that this selfless, giving mindset can absolutely be applied to our lives—wherever we are and no matter our stage of life. This is truth for all of us in all seasons!