Over the course of the past 5 and half years I have served as a minister to youth and young adults, so I am often asked about what folks should consider when they are thinking about going to school. When I worked with high schoolers this question was referring to under-grad, and now that I work with young people who are only a little less young than high schoolers, the question usually refers to a form of post under-grad studies. My wife and I are even both currently grad students in our respective fields. So, I want to help you consider some questions when you are deciding if you should go to school, when you should go to school, and where you should go to school. Here are 3 questions to consider:
- Will this be good for you spiritually? Are you at a time in your life right now which makes going to school a good thing for your spiritual walk with God? Also, is the school that you are considering going to the right school for aiding your walk with the Lord? Some people are free-spirits and might benefit from being in a Christian college/post-grad setting (like me), but some people thrive in a state school setting, and even serve as on-campus missionaries. This is the most important question to consider when you think God may be leading you to further your schooling. If the timing and the school seem to be good for your church involvement, and overall walk with the Lord then I would say you should continue walking through the apparently open door; however, if you have questions about the benefits for your spiritual life then I would recommend you make other considerations.
- Is this a wise financial decision for you? We are not all coming from equal financial situations. The idea that everyone is on equal footing when considering a huge financial investment like college or post grad is a very noble idea, but it isn’t actually reality. For some people, you may have a wealthy family member who can pay a significant amount of your schooling. For some people, you may be smart enough to get a large chunk of your school paid for via scholarship. But, for so many other people you do not have extraordinary grades and test scores, you don’t have wealthy family members, and maybe you have other life circumstances that make schooling a financial burden on your back (maybe you have kids, or are getting married soon, or legitimately have no savings, or maybe you’re in a lot of debt). If you feel burdened financially then it would be wise for you to consider completing your dream degree in a much less expensive fashion. The bible wants us as Christians to steward our finances appropriately, which means we spend our money knowing God has apportioned to us the amount He wants us to have so that we can manage our resources for His sake and glory. Sometimes this means God would rather us save money by attending community college before going on to another college for a higher degree, and sometimes this means He would rather us not go into an unwise amount of debt so we can work and save money for the sake of attending school in the future. So, don’t only ask if going to school at this time and at this school is good for you spiritually, but also ask if it is wise for you financially.
- Does going to school at this time, and at this school open up more opportunities for God to use you in your vocation, and if so then is your motive for attending school for the sake of glorifying God through your work? If we are honest, a lot of us go to school, or go back to school for the wrong motivations like making more money. But consider Colossians 3:17 which helps us to see that our work is not arbitrary, but “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (NIV).” The biblical view on school and work is that it is purposeful, for the sake of advancing in your vocation so that you can glorify God more and more through what He has called you to do. If this is true, then that means Christians who are considering school will have to reject some cultural understandings of schooling. For example, we are told undergrad is a time for “exploring,” and “finding yourself,” and “figuring out who you are,” but that sort of language is not found in Scripture, and is not a reasonable confirmation of you or I attending school. We all are called to ask God “What is the greatest use of our lives for your Kingdom?” If your schooling seeks to maximize the use of your specific skills, talents, abilities, and opportunities then by all means go for it! And as you go for it continue to seek the Lord and look to take every platform given to you for the sake of glorifying the name of the Lord. If you are going to attend either under-grad or post-grad make sure you have a God glorifying reason for actually being there– don’t just go because you think that’s the coolest idea for now, or because everyone else is doing it, but go because you are convinced God will use it to maximize your specific platform for His sake and His glory.
So, if you are considering attending college or grad school or some other trade school/certification then consider these 3 questions before making your decision. If you answer these 3 questions as best as you possibly can through prayer and with the guidance of God’s Word and other Christians who know you well, and you are still convinced to attend that school you are considering (whatever school it might be) and at that specific time (whenever that might be) then go for it! Just do it, and continue to seek the Lord in the meantime, all while maintaining an open mind about how God might use your education for the sake of proclaiming the good news of Jesus. Hopefully this is helpful for some.