by Dave Hintz
Growing up, I always had mixed feelings about August. On one hand, it was a month when I vacationed, enjoyed the hot sun, and relished in my freedom. On the other hand, it was in August that all the stores began their “Back to School” sales. Don’t get me wrong, I love sales; it’s just the “Back to School” part that always bothered me. Returning to school has always evoked dread in many students’ hearts—it means getting up early, eating cafeteria food, listening to lectures, and if that isn’t enough, the teachers actually expect you to do homework outside of school hours! Though such apathy and dread typify the attitudes of many unbelievers towards school, as the salt of the earth we must present a different testimony. Therefore, in this article I want to present all you students with five ways you can glorify God in school.
1. Be Thankful: 1 Thessalonians 5:18 states very clearly, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Thank God for the friends you have at school, the lessons you’re learning (both good and bad), and the education you are receiving. If you have trouble doing this, just imagine what life would be like if you never learned to read. Think about what kind of job opportunities would be available to you if all high schools and colleges ceased to exist. In this country we have been blessed with tremendous educational opportunities, and we need to treat them like a blessing.
2. Be a Good Steward: Isn’t it amazing that college students will spend thousands of dollars a semester paying for a single class, and then ditch it? Or that we spend eight to nine hours a day in school, the whole time daydreaming about being somewhere else? That’s like paying ten bucks for a movie and never attending, or sleeping through it when you do go. Both time and money are a gift from God and you should treat them as precious commodities (cf. Eph. 5:16).
3. Be a Good Student: What kind of testimony do you give to your teacher? What messages do you send to him or her when you sleep in class, fail to do your homework, or underachieve on your tests? So often, students’ laziness and apathy conveys disrespect to their teachers who labor hard every day preparing for class. When students do not respond, teachers are frustrated and saddened that they are not “getting through” to them. Thus, one of the best ways to encourage them and to exalt the name of God in class is to work hard, enthusiastically participate, and set an example for other students. (Cf. Col. 3:22-25).
4. Use your time wisely. This one specifically applies to college students. Syllabus Shock often strikes on the first day of class, when the instructor lets you know that you have a midterm, a final, a term paper, and 1,000 pages of reading due at the end of the semester. At this point, the foolish college student says to himself, “Great, I have nothing to do until the midterm,” and with idiotic indolence, proceeds to laugh and play for the first half of the semester—until the first test strikes. At this point chaos ensues, all-nighters follow and they manage to make it through the midterm. It gets worse during the last two weeks of the semester, when they must read a thousand pages, write a term paper, and prepare for the final. It is during this time that, under great stress and pressure, most Christian students dump both their spiritual disciplines and any ministry commitments they have. Attendance at college and high school groups plummet, and others have to pick up the slack for the church obligations they duck out of. How much wiser would it have been to read those thousand pages in the first few months and chip away at the term paper throughout the semester? (cf. Prov. 6:6-11)
5. Make the Most of Ministry Opportunities: School is one of the best mission fields you will ever have—in fact, many men and women commit their whole lives to missions work by laboring in the harvest fields of high school and college campuses. Yet for all of their skill and training, they do not have the relationships in place nor the opportunities that you have to share the gospel with your friends, teachers, and peers. Pray with Paul that God will open up “a door for the Word” (Col. 4:3).