FIRST-PERSON: Advice for students

by Cody Glen Barnhart, posted Tuesday, September 06, 2016 (one year ago)
Tags: students

MARYVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- The new school year has arrived, and I, like many others my age, have spent the last few weeks buried beneath assigned book-reading and essay-writing. It's easy to forget the importance of our own spirituality when confronted with these assignments and deadlines. Too often, students spend all their energy focusing on performing and neglect the local church.

In addition to connecting your life to a church on or near your campus, I want to add five suggestions to help guard us from spiritual burnout during the school year:

1. Make time for conversation.

School is fast-paced, jumping from one deadline to another. Carve out time to slow down and converse with those around you. You can afford to spend 10 minutes asking your friends what kinds of struggles they're facing, how they are liking their classes or what's going on in their hearts.

2. Get involved with a family.

Especially if you're single and away from home, it's easy to grow selfish during college -- selfish with your time, money and love. Allowing myself to be known by an entire family rather than one close friend was very good for me, and I know other people who have had similar experiences. Whether it's a family from your church or one of your friend's parents, try to find someone willing to gather around a table for dinner or games on a regular basis (even if not frequently).

3. Prayerlessness will ruin you.

Deep down, we still want to be sovereign over ourselves. When we get so busy that we don't pray, we no longer trust that the Spirit will sustain us. Even if you have to wake up an hour early each day to spend time reading Scripture and praying, it will be worth it. It's better to lose some sleep rather than lose your soul.

4. Your GPA only kind of matters.

Don't get me wrong -- schoolwork is important. But if you don't do as well as you anticipated in a class, it isn't the end of the world. An important part of school is to learn your limitations, and sometimes these limitations mean you need to take a B or C in a class so you can focus on something more important, like a class you are doing worse in or a friendship that isn't healthy. School will only get you so far in life, but community and admitting your shortcomings will point you to the Gospel.

5. Nothing beats close friendship with Jesus.

Even at a seminary, I found that school became an idol to me. The newest opportunity or the next event the school was hosting quickly consumed my day-to-day life -- and I allowed it to affect my walk with Christ.

No matter what the cost, we need to remember we are students of Christ first. Friends with him, too. This friendship promises the kind of life academic success could only theorize about, so cling to it.

Cody Glen Barnhart, of Maryville, Tenn., writes at www.counterculturing.com and is a student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where he is pursuing his M.Div.
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