Starting the Semester Right

Starting the semester can be very intimidating. From managing classes, getting involved, finding the right study group, keeping up with schedules, and making sure you have endless note cards. It is so easy to plan your week without incorporating quiet times or bible study. It is easy to push off quiet time because you have three exams this week. It is easy to push off bible study because you have two essays due this week. It is easy to push off discipleship because you have a quiz tomorrow. It is easy to put God to the side when you are focused on school.

Think of a time when God saved you in a time of need. He provided for you! He gave you peace! He gave you rest! He gave you fulfillment! All those feelings will continue throughout the semester if we keep Him as the focus of our lives. How to do that? Three major things that will help you keep God the center of your life while taking on the semester include time with God, time with community, and your ‘inner circle’.
At the beginning of the semester, you get all the course syllabi. I typically take those and put all the dates in my calendar in pencil in case they change for the entire semester to understand what is expected of me. By doing this, I can see how many exams I have the same week or what weeks I need to prepare for. Also, I can gauge what classes I need to focus on more. For Chemistry, I need to do at least two hours every day. On the contrary, for my Popular Fiction course, I only need to spend 3 hours max a week. You can plan according to the needs of the courses. During scheduling classes, we should also ‘schedule God’. If you are a morning person, maybe your quiet times and devotionals should happen in the morning before the day begins. If you are not a morning person, maybe your quiet time or devotional should be right after you get back from classes before starting schoolwork or maybe the hour before you go to sleep. It is so important to keep a designated time in your day that is consistent with God through prayer and readings. Matthew 6:6 says “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”. Closing the door is the same as being alone in silence and peace. It is essential to have that time alone. Later in Matthew 11:28, it says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”. Scheduling the week can be a daunting task when you look at your to-do list that fills up the page. Through that, we have many burdens and we can get overwhelmed! We need this rest in Christ to be rejuvenated for the day and for the challenges that day.
Similarly to making God a part of every day, get involved in a campus ministry. When starting college, everyone always says “Get Involved!”. It's true but not excessively. Get involved in a campus ministry because it can be a great positive influence. It can provide weekly worship and sermons, bible study, discipleship, community, and fellowship. These are all so important for Christians! Worship and a sermon can encourage you for the week to come. Worship is fulfilling and peaceful. Bible study is important for fellowship, creating a community, and learning from that community. Everyone interprets things differently and someone else can help you grow as a Christian in your faith and wisdom. Discipleship is such an important thing within a campus ministry which leads us into the third focus.
Let’s be real, college has so many tempting things whether that is just skipping quiet time, partying, or impurity. There are so many different avenues to lose focus. Accountability is a must with so many temptations and distractions. Discipleship can provide accountability and stability in your faith and actions. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”. Whether discipleship is with your best friend, bible study, or accountability partner, you need an ‘inner circle’ that you can rely on. Your inner circle needs to be sold and growing in their faith and actively pursuing a relationship with God just as you are. We have all had an experience when an old friend has led us down a ‘not so righteous path’. We have all been there. We know through that experience how important it is to have well-grounded Christians surrounding us. Accountability is a must.

You are in a unique position in life! You make your own choices, your own decisions, and you get your own consequences. Develop a schedule. Get involved with a campus ministry. Build accountability with your inner circle.