Friday, November 25, 2011

Crisis of Identity

College can trigger a crisis of identity.  The reason is that you were trying to fit in by being someone that God has not made you to be.  High school has a way of doing this as peer pressures tend to strongly force you to conform to something you are not.  The beauty is that in college there are few identifiable “types” as there were in high school, so this can be liberating, but it also can be disorientating.  College professors tend to enjoy their role of calling all of your beliefs into question, so for students of faith be ready to be challenged.  You may be mocked, but you should be ready to defend your reasons for your faith in a way that draws people to Christ instead of repelling them (1 Peter 3:15).  You may have never been forced to do this, so take this opportunity to delve deeply into the scriptures to find out what you believe and why you believe it.  There are a number of good programs out there, check with your pastor.  I have found the discipleship training materials of the Navigators as a great source of training.  For those of you who have left town to go to school, you should develop a new home church where you are going to school.  This will give you access to people like you who can support you in the spiritual battles that you WILL face in college.  Public universities tend to encourage any philosophy except Christianity, so be ready.  Charles Malik in his article titled “A Christian Critique of the University” found numerous areas where Christian values were counter to the basic culture on most college campuses.  A Christian college allows you to escape some of these pressures, but not all of them.  For the rest of you attending a public university, it will serve you to think of college as a mission field. 
            For those who have unclear goals, you are in the majority.  If you have the ability to do college, go for it.  Any degree will give you a broad set of options, as there are careers out there that do not require a specific degree, just that you do have one.  As you seek God, things will become clearer, but be prepared to walk in a bit of a haze.  God doesn’t always explain himself and make your whole life trajectory clear, He often just lets you know what you should be doing now.  You can live out your faith through many careers and God needs people everywhere to reach people who need Him (1 Cor 7:17).  Working in ministry is not for everyone, but if you do your education will help your ministry as well as your impact in ministry.  If you have been given the ability to do college (and only a few have it) you should not turn your back on this gift.   For those of you who have not declared a major, use your classes to help point the way, ask yourself as you take these classes: “Do I enjoy this?” and “Am I good at this?”  An affirmative in BOTH above questions can lead you to a major and a career path.