I still remember my first months as a freshman at Christian college. I couldn’t get over having professors who prayed before class, coaches who gave devotionals at each practice and the opportunity to attend daily chapel services with like-minded students.
Nothing prepared me for the unexpected “underground,” as I called it, that emerged before my eyes, after I’d been around my campus for a while. It shocked me to discover there were students who attended Christian college simply because their parents forced them to go (while I, on the other hand, had been saving and planning for the experience with excitement for years). Not everyone had a positive attitude about being there and not everyone lived out their faith in a genuine way. I was discouraged by the hypocrisy I began to observe around me.
Maybe your Christian campus is everything you dreamed it would be! But, perhaps the glow has worn off and you’ve become disillusioned by some less-than-perfect facet of your school. Whether you’re disappointed about the current spiritual climate of your Christian college or just don’t love your cafeteria options, there’s bound to be something that doesn’t meet up to your expectations. When we come across unmet expectations we basically have three choices: 1) wallow in dissatisfaction, 2) make peace with the situation, accepting what is, OR 3) strive to make a change. While option #3 definitely requires the most work, you may be surprised to realize you CAN make a positive, lasting impact on your campus. Consider these ideas to get moving toward improvement:
- Prayer. While we often feel powerless to bring about change on our own, it’s great to be reminded that we serve a powerful God who is able to use us to move mountains; He delights in bringing all things under His mighty reign (Matt. 17:20; Eph. 1:10). He tells us that we don’t have what we desire because we aren’t even asking Him, or because we’re asking with selfish motives (James 4:2). Consider how God might want to pour out loads on blessing on your campus in response to your prayers—and then pray about the needs you see.
- Attitude. Consider this: your attitude sets a tone, and tone can change the atmosphere of an entire community. Clear your heart of complaining, whining, anger and resentment. Focus on changing your perspective and on noticing what is good and right about your campus. Recognize that while you can’t change others and maybe not even whole systems you CAN change you, and sometimes that changes everything! Winston Churchill said, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”
- Spoken Words. Our words have power to bring life or death (Prov. 18:21) and our stories are powerful. You have not lived your life by accident; God has assigned it to you as your lot and your portion and He wants it to be used for His purposes (Ps. 16:5-6; Rom. 8:28). Consider how sharing what God’s done in your life could encourage or inspire others. In a similar way, the words you speak over your campus or community are not just words—they carry a sense of destiny and purpose. Proverbs 11:11 says: “Through the blessing of the upright a city [campus] is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.” If there’s a negative vibe on your campus, turn the tide with your tongue
- Service. Like attitude and words, service is something that often goes unnoticed but can reap huge dividends! It takes many forms so get creative. Is there a staff or faculty member who could benefit from some kindness? Write a note or drop off a small gift. Is there something behind the scenes that needs to be done? Offer help where you see a need. Roll up your sleeves and do some grunt work. Fill a need. One student I know recently bought doughnuts for her campus administration and it was a much-needed pick-me-up in a dreary season.
- Leadership.Many of us cringe at the idea of being a leader. But the fact is, even if you are not a “natural born leader” everyone can step up and lead in one form or another. Being a leader has more to do with being an example than being bossy. Sometimes there is no change because no one acts. It’s often easier to see the problems than be a problem-solver. Where could you step out, plan an event, organize a fundraiser or risk to set a new direction? Much positive change that happens on a Christian campus is student led. What needs to be started? A support group? A worship night? An outreach team? A prayer gathering? If permission must be granted or groundwork laid, write an email to your dean of students, get in touch with your student body representatives, draft a letter for your school newspaper. Why wait around for others to speak up or make a difference? Get to work!