The school year has begun along with all of its extracurricular activities and busyness. With that come many new opportunities to interact with people and make new friends. More importantly come new possibilities to be the light of Christ in the social settings we find ourselves. And while this is true and important for adults, I think it is even more relevant for children and students. So how should students and their parents approach the school year? My hope is to give some helpful suggestions to ensure we make the most of the opportunities God is giving us anew this year.
Focus on Christ more than school. One way we can miss divine appointments is by being more focused on whatever task lies before us than on our relationship with Christ. Idolatry is when we make something other than Christ primary in our lives. I know it seems crazy to think of school as possibly being an idol, but even good things can be idols. Colossians 1:15-20 makes it clear that Jesus has first place above all things. So even the best things in our lives must be at least second place in our hearts and must not detract from our relationship with Jesus. Sadly, it is possible for school and extracurricular accomplishments to become one’s god for a season. And while students may be hitting all their goals for the school year, they may inadvertently miss the goals that God has for them in their lives making them ineffective for the gospel. So make sure your focus is on the right thing.
Focus on school for the glory of Christ. Parents should not fret my advice above, because if students make Jesus their primary focus, then they will not be able to escape their desire to glorify Him in all that He has called them to do. The average person goes to school and participates in things for his own glory and obedience to his parents. But the Christian student does his best to bring glory to God out of love for Christ and love for his parents. You see, making Christ preeminent in our hearts changes our motivation from vainglory and rote obedience to love. This in turn will make kids and teenagers Christlike in their actions AND better students. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says “whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” And Ephesians 6:6-7 tells us that service is to be done from the heart as though it is for the Lord instead of for other people. Being a good student and growing in your faith are not mutually exclusive things. Being an excellent student is just one of the many ways to show love for God and bring Him glory. Do your best because you love Jesus and want to give Him glory.
Focus on friends who lead you to Christ. One simple yet vital piece of advice is to make sure your closest friends are people leading you to Christ, not away. 1 Corinthians 15:33 says “do not be deceived: ‘bad company corrupts good morals.’” This is probably the most ignored truth in the life of students today. Friendships can be hard, but friends who are not seeking to lead you to the Savior are dangerous. Every area of your life can suffer when just one friend starts to pull your focus away from Jesus. So choose your friends wisely.
Focus on sharing Christ with acquaintances. While you are guarding your friendships, you should not ignore unbelievers. They should be acquaintances whom you enjoy and with whom you interact on a regular basis. Paul instructs the church in Corinth again in 1 Corinthians 5:9-10 that they were not prohibited from associating with unbelievers. How else would they hear the gospel? So, the principle is to willingly spend time with unbelievers (without participating in sinful behavior of course), but also to be ready and look for ways to share the gospel.
I believe that if students will focus on these things, then they will be effective at showing the light of Christ wherever they go. Therefore, my prayer is that parents and grandparents will focus on these principles when they talk to their children and grandchildren and will help them grow as effective followers of Christ.