First off, this is not an anti-college article. Having never been, I would find it quiet dishonest to write an embittered essay against that particular educational system. This article is merely my opinion based on events that have taken place in my life over the last year or so. I also do not believe that what I state or reflect on in this article applies to everyone, although I hope it sparks an internal thought process in the minds of the readers, particularly those in their final year of high school considering college.
In my final year of high school, like all seniors, I was being slammed with questions about my future:
“What will you do?” “What are your plans?” and of course, “What college will you attend?”
For me, it seemed that there was no option other than college. I couldn’t see past it. And furthermore, growing up in a highly conservative Christian environment, Christian college seemed to be the only type of schooling I should even consider pursuing.
Freshman year, I told everyone when I grew up I would go to Pensacola Christian College! (Because, hey, water slides! Am I right?!!!)
Sophomore and Junior Year, I was heavily interested in Maranatha Baptist Bible College, because they had some form of video production classes.
Senior year, I broke down and registered for West Coast Baptist College. Why? It was only two hours from my friends back home.
I was all set to go! I was about to pursue what I had been told over and over was God’s will for every Christian after high school: An education from a Bible college!
In May of 2013, however, I was offered a chance to help shoot a missions documentary in India along with a one-year video internship, and with that, I cancelled my college registration, and in July I took off to Fresno, CA, and never looked back.
Now, it’s been over a year since then, and God’s given me some amazing opportunities, I’ve gotten to work with tons of different ministries, travelled all over the place, and gotten to do what I love pretty much non-stop.
Looking back over just this short time, I am increasingly thankful that God directed my path away from Bible college.
Here are the three main reasons:
I. I WAS NOT READY FOR THE INTENSE STRUCTURE OF A CHRISTIAN COLLEGE
In my senior year of high school, I was not an A+ Christian. Or even a C+ Christian. I was bad. My heart and mind did not have one iota of interest in doing anything for God. I said I did, I told myself I did, but deep down. I was doing everything for myself and too make other people happy.
When it came to Bible college, as I said before, I didn’t even consider there being another option. It was really the only thing presented to me in my 13 years in a private Christian school and my Independent Baptist Church.
I clearly remember one night at a youth service when a guest speaker outlined “God’s Will” for every young person. He said something like this: “It is my desire that each of you would fulfill God’s will for your life by doing well in school, attending Bible college, getting married, and serving in a church somewhere.”
Talk about an ouch moment for the nerd kid with the camera who really just wants to shoot video for the rest of his life. I felt like I had to force myself to do God’s will, and somehow sneak what I actually wanted to do into my schedule.
I would have gone through Bible college, desperately wanting to do something else than everyone there, and having no desire at all to fit the “spiritual mold” that would be imposed on me.
II. I WOULD HAVE BECOME BITTER.
I know, I know, the last point probably sounded pretty selfish. But honestly, at that point in my life, that was my limited view of what it meant to be in “God’s will.”
I wanted no part of it.
My legitimate game plan for my future was: Go to one year of Bible college (to appease my parents and church), move far away, get a great job as a videographer (to appease myself) and attend a small church on Sunday mornings so I could tell my family I went to church.
Don’t see God in that plan? Neither did I, and that was exactly what I intended. The God I had been shown my whole life was so small, cold, and uninterested in me being the least bit happy. Serving Him was my duty, and I should expect no joy in it. (Although I should act joyful the whole time I’m serving Him.)
If I had gone to Bible college with that mindset, constantly being forced to spend time talking about a God I was not interested in, acting the part of a person I had no desire to be, I would have become so bitter at my college, faculty, and even more bitter at God.
In Fresno, during my internship at a wonderful Christian company I have been a part of a tremendous local church. The Jesus spoken of here was so different than anything I’d ever experienced before, it was as if beautiful, real, loving God was revealed to me for the first time. A God who gives us wonderful talents and gifts, not so we can suppress them and live a miserable life for Him, but One who lets us cultivate those gifts and glorify Him with them.
I fell in love with God this year. I have read countless books and commentaries, I have devoured the scriptures and I can’t stop talking about Him. I can’t help but think that if I had participated in the rigid structure of college that I never would have developed a natural relationship with my Savior, but rather burnt out and become a cold, bitter shell of a Christian.
III. IT WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN THE BEST WAY TO STEWARD THE GIFTS GOD HAS GIVEN ME.
I grew up with a love for films and filmmaking, and since I was eight years old I’ve been the nerd with a camera. It is clear to me that God gave me this passion and ability to honor Him, and I’m not sure that one year of Bible college would have cultivated those gifts for Him.
In over a year of working with a Christian media company, I have gotten to work directly and indirectly with dozens of pastors and ministries, and make God known and touch lives in ways I never could have if I had faked my way through Bible college classes and gone on to live a life that God never intended for me personally.
Will I ever attend any form of seminary or Bible college? Possibly. But my main point is this: God’s will is bigger than Bible college (although it may be a part of it), and God’s will is bigger than a “formula for Christian success.”
Discover the talents and gifts God has given you, and figure out how you can cultivate them to glorify Him. It may not be the status quo, and people may question your decision, but in the end, you will have a deeper and stronger relationship with God if you follow Him before you follow any system.
Have you attended a Christian college? Do you regret the decision or was it the right choice for you? Let me know in the comments below!