A letter to a Bible College Student
I wrote this blog post from my old college dorms several months back. I was taking a class for seminary, and had to stay overnight. It was like a blast from the past to be staying exactly two floors down from my dorm room for two plus years here. Not much changed…it even smelled the same. Ok, one thing has changed — me. Looking in the mirror, I realize I am no 19 year old college kid (the gray hairs on my head and goatee are the dead giveaways). So, I got to thinking, what advice would I give to my young self regarding the future in ministry? And by extension, what do young people in Bible College or getting ready for ministry need to hear? So I wrote a letter to myself in the past…
Hey Young Bill!
This is a letter from slightly older Bill. Man, you look young! I remember those days. Or at least I think so. Its starting to get fuzzy as I get up there in age and
For starters, continue to fall deeply in love with Jesus. Its pretty easy right now when you’re in Bible college with the multiple chapel services, weekly dorm devotions, daily Bible classes, and constant encouragement from other other Christians. In the ”real world” of jobs, bills, marriage, kids, and life it becomes difficult. Don’t allow the struggles of life to choke out that relationship with God. Read the Bible, not as a textbook or lesson material but as the words of life. Pray, not out of duty but because you’re heavenly Father is eagerly awaiting every word. Worship not because you like to sing but because you can’t help but pour out your passion for God. Hold on to the promise that God is holding onto you.
Take your classes seriously. I did pretty good for myself, but I kick myself for those days I was too “tired” (from late night studying of my Playstation) to go to class. You’ll be tempted to cruise and just get by. Don’t let yourself do that! The grades aren’t important, but you are learning wisdom from amazing men and women that you’ll be able to use in your ministry. Don’t waste that!
Look for opportunities to get experience in ministry. Try to find a part time or weekend youth ministry. They are out there, and you will want this experience. For a selfish reason, you’ll need it on the resume. But the most important reason is because you will get to make a difference now, and not be waiting to get that degree to start making a difference. You’ll see what you do is important. Plus, you’ll get some money, and I know you owe the guy on the third floor $5 for Skyline Chili.
Be careful as you start to search for a ministry. Be deligent as you search for the right fit for you and your gifts. I hate to say that I allowed myself to go to churches where I knew there were red flags, but I was worried other churches wouldn’t want to hire me so I said yes to the first ones that came calling. Don’t make that mistake, you’ll spend years regretting it. You will not regret taking your time and being careful as you apply and interview at churches. There are lots of good ones out there, but there are also lots of bad ones out there. The bad ones can hurt you really badly, so be careful.
Nurture these friendships you have at school. Many of these people you will count as lifelong friends. Many of these people you’ll wish you would have gotten to know better in the time you had. Some will surprise you with blessings much later in life. But drink richly of these friendships and allow the roots to grow deep. The only thing you’ll regret is having superficial friendships.
Don’t be so impatient for the future to get here. Your future will have some tremendous ups, and some terrible downs. Learn to enjoy living in the present and getting the most out of life as you can. Don’t wait for life to arrive, make your life awesome now. On the flip side, don’t live in the past either. Life wasn’t as great as you were remembering, you’re just editting out all the bad stuff. The only moment you can change is the one right in front of you.
Finally, I want to encourage you to be ready for battle. Right now, you think youth ministry is games and teaching cool lessons and having teens look up to you. The reality is that you are rescuing young people from the gates of hell, and the enemy does not like that. Don’t go into this lightly, be prepared for whats coming. You’ll find allies in unexpected places, and enemies from who you thought were friends. You’ll see battle where you expected dancing, and sunshine where only darkness should be. Just be ready.
I’ll see you in the future!
PS: Just an FYI — your senior year, you’ll be playing soccer in the alumni game. This big guy named Chuck will be trying to kick the ball but break your leg instead. Your future self would really appreciate it if you just jumped out of the way. Thanks!
What is some advice you’d give to yourself (or to others) if you were able to write a letter back in time?