In this month’s article, I wanted to share a few valuable lessons that I’ve learned as a college student. Unfortunately, these lessons came through a few hard knocks along the way. If there’s one thing I have learned it’s this: Get as much mileage out of those lessons that you can by helping other people as much as possible.
(1) Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Sometimes, this scripture is the only motivator I have to keep my heart’s attitude right and continue doing my best, despite my ever-present wishy-washy feelings. I have applied this principle through a wide spectrum of situations— in the workplace, my relationships, and in my academic pursuits. Making this a habit now will follow you into your career. Right now there may be times when a professor’s expectations seem impossible; but later on there could be an employer who demands the impossible from you, too. Get used to practicing this scripture because it develops discipline in your life, not to mention it pleases God.
(2) Discipline becomes a way of life if you want to succeed, and you can’t base it on how you feel. Ask any athlete if they practice their sport only when they “feel” like it and you’ll likely hear a variety of sarcastic remarks. Just as a well-trained athlete prepares for their sport, it takes a similar type of discipline in academics. As a result, I’ve learned to make myself study, even when I don’t feel like it, and to discipline my time. Academic success requires copious amounts of sacrifices in many areas. “Discipline” is even addressed in scripture: II Timothy 1:7 (Amplified Bible) says He has given us a “spirit of power, love, and a calm, well-balanced mind, discipline, and self-control.” God is gracious to help us out by providing extra discipline if we believe Him for it.
(3) It takes faith for academics. I’ve been a charismatic Christian for many years, and I’ve learned to use my faith for physical healing, financial provision, etc. However, I’ve never heard from the pulpit a 6-point sermon on “How to Believe God for an A in Pathophysiology.” Try studying 20 hours for a critical 10-point quiz only to walk away with a 70 percent, and see what that does for your faith. More than once I’ve been tempted to lose faith and question God because I felt I did everything in my own power to ensure a good result, and failed.
Once after a challenging science test had disappointing results, I fought back tears as I walked out to my car. Gently, the Holy Spirit reminded me of I Thessalonians 5:17, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I had a decision to make: could I be thankful, despite my test results? And, quite frankly, the results could’ve been a lot worse.
So here are a few ways I’ve learned to grow in faith for academics. Psalms 37:3-4 and James 1:5 are mainstays when facing a difficult subject. I do my part in studying, and I trust God to do His part in giving me wisdom, grace, and understanding.
Secondly, I strive to keep an attitude of gratitude. Despite the trials and difficulties that accompany some subjects, I am truly thankful for the privilege to even be a nursing student and learn whatever I can. Right now in the U.S. there are over 30,000 students waiting to get into nursing school, and they would give anything to be here. What a privilege God has given me, and I want to be a wise steward over this privilege. I often quote II Corinthians 2:14a: “Thanks be to God, Who always leads us in triumph in Christ ... “
Third, I never, ever feel sorry for myself.
Fourth, the words I speak and think about have everything to do with keeping a positive attitude and trusting God. Philippians 2:14 says to “Do all things without grumbling, faultfinding, complaining, questioning or doubting...” I refuse to complain. Instead, I continue to thank God for His grace and strength.
You may have started this semester with certain expectations, but I will let you in on a secret: God has a lot more planned for you, and if you’ll let Him, He will use a number of unusual opportunities to bring you closer to Him. After all, He’s really more interested in us becoming men and women of faith than anything else.