The Freshman 15

Dining hall food gets a bad rap, but incoming college freshmen don’t seem to have a problem packing on the infamous “freshman 15.” Honoring that tradition, here are 15 ways incoming freshmen (or upperclassmen for that matter) can seek to glorify God as they head off to college this month.

1. There is no greater way you can spend your time, energy, and effort than pursuing Christ with all your heart. Education matters. That’s why you’re going to college. But pursuing Christ matters more. Remember, you can make only one thing your central aim in life. Make it the right thing. Ask God for much grace to keep him at the center.

2. Join a church. Find one that preaches the Word, loves worshiping God as a body, and seeks to make Christ known. Once you find it, join it and start building relationships.

3. Make a plan for your first semester about how you are going to be in the Word. If you use a Bible reading plan, put it in your schedule now. If you don’t currently have a plan for reading the Word, make one before you leave.

4. As now so then. Don’t spend your college career talking about how you will follow Christ in the future. Follow him now the way you want to follow him then.

5. Take advantage of the unique opportunity to get to know a wide variety of people from different backgrounds who have all been sovereignly put in the same dorm. Ask people to tell you their story.  Sit, listen, and ask follow-up questions. Tell them you like to pray for people you’ve met and ask how you can pray for them.

6. Seek to radically love others as Christ did. Avoid gossips and gossiping. It’s gross. Loving like Christ isn’t.

7. Remember, following passionately after Christ is not going to be the norm (yes, sadly even at Christian colleges this can be true). Look to God’s Word for the standard of what an authentic follower of Christ looks like and seek others who seek him in the same way.

8. Look for opportunities to serve. Serve broadly, serve lovingly, serve faithfully, and serve diligently. Look for where there is a need and dive in.

9. Remember that others are going through the same changes and new experiences. Look for opportunities to speak truth about the gospel to people who want a fresh start in college. Show them the hope in the gospel and forgiveness available to them.

10. Attend every opportunity for biblical teaching that you can. Go to a campus ministry’s weekly meeting and invite someone from your dorm to go with you.

11. Work hard. Remember the privilege that you are afforded and respond appropriately. Fight against laziness by remembering you are seeking to please Christ, not your professor (or mom or dad).

12. When you find someone you are interested in dating, make sure that their one aim in life is the same as yours (see #1 above.)

13. Take advantage of the variety of classes and opportunities that will be available to you only in college. Look for at least one class to take for the sheer love of learning about a subject you have never studied before (or may never have the time to study again).

14. Make a prayer list and pray for the people on it. Start with your roommate and the guys down the hall who don’t give a rip about Christ.

15. Pursue God joyfully. Is there anything greater than knowing Christ? Make the joy of pursuing Christ a hallmark of your life.

  • Rebekah

    Tomorrow I begin classes for my final semester of college but I enjoyed reading this none the less. There is one point though that stood out to me that I believe needs a qualification. Point 10: “Attend every opportunity for biblical teaching that you can. Go to a campus ministry‚Äôs weekly meeting and invite someone from your dorm to go with you.” Where I believe it is SO very important to attend a campus ministry saying “attend EVERY opportunity” can easily cause a problem. I go to a school that has over 20 Christian Campus ministries. It is so easy to start attending as many of those campus ministries as possible and entering into a “Christian bubble” The only people you interact with and have “beyond class relationships” with are Christians. That poses difficult when it comes to befriending non-Christians. All this being said I believe this point should say find the ONE campus ministry you fit into best.

    • James Krieg

      ‘Every opportunity’ implies the use of wisdom. Spending your time going to every Christian event at the expense of your study and witness is not taking an opportunity, it’s being lazy. However wisely choosing opportunities, and not using the excuse, ‘I can’t go because I have this big assignment, which I haven’t done because I’ve been out socialising or playing computer games instead.’ is in the spirit of point 10. But then I’m biased – I work in campus ministry, and often wonder why most Christians on campus neglect any opportunity to be involved.

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  • thefallout

    Good words, for college freshmen and pretty much everyone else. I’ll be sharing this with some of the students where I minister.

  • ChrisB

    I have to disagree with #10. Every school’s different, but where went to college, it was completely possible to be in church or a Bible study every day. You’ve got to study some time. You do not honor Christ by being a bad student.

    We should always strive to be the best at what we do, while doing it in a Christ-like way, so that the world cannot speak ill of the gospel on account of us.

    • Jeff

      Part of the reason you do not honor God by being a bad student is that “the one who does not provide for his family…is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). The skill-building of academic excellence prepares us to serve God as the workaday people that most of us become. Of course, this helps us strike a balance with #1 on the list, too. Paul went through seasons of emphasizing his work life, allowing him to move about with dependence when he wanted to buckle down and minister. College is an important preparatory season; don’t lose sight of this vital motivating truth.

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  • Dan Larison

    Thank you, Jeff, for these clear, biblical, Christ-centered principles.

  • Abbey Bennett

    Jeff, thank you so much for taking the time to write this list for students, professors and youth group leaders. What a great encouragement to keep our eyes on Christ throughout the craziness of the college schedule. I’ve seen these steps followed and I truly believe that these things lead to a greater peace in the midst of the chaos. Thanks again Jeff!

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  • Samantha

    LOVE this post. In response to the above comments on point 10, I don’t think the author means that you should neglect your studies to attend every single Bible study/large group/seminar/church meeting. By no means. Certainly we would squander our parents’ money, and I don’t think being lazy in academics glorifies God. We shouldn’t use church as an excuse not to study, and we shouldn’t use studying as an excuse not to serve the church — for all are under the lordship of Christ. That said, I think “every opportunity” means that it is a priority and not something you do when you feel like it or only occasionally.

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  • Conway

    Study some Christian apologetics. You need to know what your religious convictions are and what reasons there are to hold to them since there are so many diverse opinions in microcosm at the universty.

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  • Steven

    Re: #10– Campus ministries have a sense of mission for the campus. Often the teaching provided at their weekly meetings is a minor part of their overall vision. Better to recommend that students join with a reputable campus ministry (there are many not-so-reputable ones) and submit to the leadership of that ministry in joining with the vision they have for the campus. All of the “outreach” type recommendations you make in this list can be taught skillfully by people who have devoted years to working in the campus environment. One of the biggest hindrances to the gospel moving forward on campuses is often Christian students who arrive on campus and treat campus ministries as a buffet to sample, rather than a mission to join and serve alongside.

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  • Kate Henderson

    LOVED all of these. They echo many of the same principals I use in my Bible study.

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