College can be an important formational experience in your life if approached rightly. For many, this is the first time leaving home which begins the process of developing your own thoughts, habits, and friendships. Since this season can be such a critical developmental season, here are four things that when I personally began to put into practice, I saw the Lord use them to bear much fruit.

1. Seek God and His Kingdom

To know God and delight in him is the ultimate purpose of the Christian life. Lay down anything that stands in the way of that: job security, parents’ approval, bad relationships, etc. Rather invest your energy and your mind into loving God and pursuing him. Spend time praying, worshiping, reading Scripture and walking alongside people who are pursuing Jesus. If God is your end, he will sustain you through whatever season of life you encounter.

2. Find a Church

Ideally, a church is where you find a community of those who have been transformed by God from sin and now pursue him wholeheartedly. Do not buy into the “I love Jesus but hate the Church” idea. According to 1 John 4:19-21 it is impossible to make such distinction. The church for sure is filled with imperfect people, but what else would you expect? What makes a church a church is that it is a group of broken people who have the same goal: to know and love God. So find a church where the people show fruits of the Spirit, where the word of God is taught, cherished, and lived out. And when you do, commit to that body of believers, serve them and allow yourself to be served by the church.

3. Have Realistic Expectations

College alone will not prepare you to face life. College will teach you a lot of theories and ideas, but often you will encounter situations in which good ideas are not practical or as easy as they sound. So take time, listen, learn, and most importantly find the time and space to grow in character. College may not prepare you to face every circumstance in life, but the values, disciplines, and habits you develop can provide a great foundation for your future. So in this season, go to class, study, learn, challenge yourself, and grow in character.

4. Opposition is not a curse

If you make it through biology or religion 101 without the teacher questioning and poking some holes in your personal convictions, your college experience is not worth it. Opposition gives you the opportunity to ground your convictions and that is a good thing! Be aware that professors are not neutral, nor do Ph.D.’s instill character in a person. Don’t buy into the Post-modern thought that truth is relative and thereby irrelevant. Truth is more complicated than some people would like to admit, but that does not mean it’s irrelevant. Also, don’t freak out about hard questions. People have had to reconcile big questions like “why is there suffering if God is all good?” or “did Jesus have a wife?” or “what about those brutal Old Testament stories?” since the Church began. Beware of people who seem to “discover” nuances as if it had not been considered in 2000 years of Church history.

Just remember, as you draw closer to the Lord, he will draw near to you. If your goal is communion with him, these four things will help you establish a structure of love for Him that will carry you throughout your life.