For five days in a week you take on the role of student, and simply want to do your best in school. But you’re a weekend warrior for Christ. You serve in Church and believe in giving up your free time for God’s kingdom. You want to know Him, devoting time and energy over the weekend to attend corporate worship and services, and commit to outreach and fellowship.
All is well, until the two segments of your life start overstepping their boundaries. With projects, readings and assignments piling up, schoolwork spills over into the weekend. Meanwhile, weekend ministries creep into every vacancy in your weekday schedule.
It all starts to drain you. “Choose this day whom you will serve,” the words of Joshua echo in your mind. But it’s not that simple a choice. It’s more complicated than “good versus evil”. (Believe it or not, school isn’t evil!)
Maybe the choice between school and God is a red herring. A better question is: What truly matters?
As a result, many believers experience great tension between the will of God and how it is practically applied in life. With limited time and energy, some who see student-hood as their primary call reject ministries which are seen as distractions. Academic excellence is my testimony. I cannot squander my God-given talents.
But maybe the choice between school and God is a false dichotomy, or a red herring.
A better question is: What truly matters?
Whatever kind of student you are – from high-flying valedictorian to no-longer-I-that-liveth missionary – listen up. What truly matters is our choice to begin and end with God.
Just as “ministry” is not restricted to church work or campus activities, our call to Christian studenthood is not restricted to studying.
Grades are merely formal measures of learning. Learning is the acquisition of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. Pursue learning that increases our capacity for doing God’s work in the near future or long-term.
Grades, too, can unlock doors to places of professional or technical relevance, such as the legal industry, politics, medicine, science or engineering. Christians need to be able to navigate the complexities of societal structure to be effective for God, and academic qualification could be a part of that calling. Let the Holy Spirit show you the narrow path.
Learning is the acquisition of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. Pursue learning that increases our capacity for doing God’s work in the near future or long-term.
That said, good grades in and of themselves are never God’s purpose. You were not born for academic success, but to be God’s agent for change, healing, hope, truth, and love. Your grades might help bring you there, or become distractions that steer you from your God-given purpose.
Let God define your success. Hold on loosely to the things of life, sweet and promising as they appear, and hold fast only to the Word of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit. The good fight may involve being diligent in your studies, carrying a strong testimony, serving the church and the needy, learning about the world, or equipping ourselves for future ministry – this path will differ for different people. But essentially, we simply leave our nets and go wherever He leads.
CHOOSE CHRISTLIKE CHARACTER
God leads us, not with the iron fist of law, but with the gentle nudge of grace. We become vessels that bring this grace into into examination halls, dormitories, seminar rooms, auditoriums and everything we do – in our studies or otherwise.
God can only use your gifts and talents for His kingdom if that which directs them – your character – is rooted in Him. A heart tethered to His shall not wander (Psalm 119:10), but from deep restedness, feel His compassion for the lost, and be compelled to go to them. Renewed minds will begin to discern His good, pleasing, and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2). Eyes that have seen His glory will no longer settle for being imperfect reflections of Him (1 Corinthians 13:12), but work purposefully to scrub and polish till the fullness of Christ is revealed.
Christlike character no longer desires the sin it once frolicked in. It now lives for a higher purpose. It invites God’s presence into every experience: Studies, ministry, life. It knows that all things can and must be used for His glory. Not slack, yet rested, it is powerful – in word, deed and testimony regardless of circumstance.
Be academically excellent for Him. Spend time helping a struggling coursemate. Mentor an emotionally broken teenager from your church.
Write your reports truthfully, even if your experimental findings weren’t groundbreaking and everyone else was tweaking data. Bring your seeking friend to church over the weekend even if finals fall on the coming Monday. Go for the youth prayer meeting held in your Church. Then start one in your school.
Not every little victory for God will result in good grades. But ultimately, your character is a much more powerful testimony than your report card. So above simple academic or ministerial excellence, pursue Christlike character. In this kingdom, this is what truly matters.