At some point or the other, each of us faces decisions. Some decisions are minor, and some are major. We can be very thankful for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the knowledge that God’s will us for us is the best. It is the journey of discovery and obeying His will that is so amazing and challenging at the same time.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
When we surrender to God to live unto Him, He transforms us and reveals to us what is His perfect will.
My firm belief is that every young person needs to learn a skill and have professional training and experience. That is part of the requirement of an education. That skill could be teaching, music, nursing, running a business, or doing accounts – but it’s important not to stop with “basic education” and literacy but to have marketable skills and job options. Jesus was a carpenter, Paul was a tentmaker. Even the woman in Bible times were highly skilled in various areas. Skills are important!
Life skills such as domestic skills are important, and we can’t do away with them, but doing laundry, cooking, and the like are what I would consider very basic life skills, akin to reading and writing. As someone who has been through college, I personally found that I was able to continue helping around the home, cooking, and continue developing practical domestic skills alongside my college education – in fact, many of these skills were amply useful.
As a teen, I was an avid reader and taught myself a great many things. In my mind, I saw college as a waste of money, something young people did to “have a good time”. I was ready to forge my own path, developing skills in unusual ways. Being in no hurry, I continued to study at home for awhile after my friends starting going to college.
God had other plans. I’m convinced it was the Lord’s leading for me to suddenly decide at age 19 to get a school-leaving/college entrance certificate (which I would have needed to study in my country and overseas). After that, the day I got results, I told my mother I was interested in a particular course, and she took me at once to visit the college. Hesistant to sign on for the course and make this huge decision, my parents encouraged me!
However, after finishing the first stage, I faced a sudden realization that my plans were going to have to change. At one moment, I was really stressed, worried, and cried out to God for help and His leading, and He arranged things for me, opening the right doors – I’m excited for the next stage of His plan!
Here are some highlights that I would like to share with you:
- Respecting my parents
While I felt it would be “godlier” to forgo a university education, my parents wanted me to have an undergraduate degree at least. After researching, praying and presenting them with my choice, they were delighted that I could make such a decision. I was able to honour them by being diligent and not wasting their investments!
2. It didn’t/doesn’t cost a lot
I don’t believe in spending a fortune to get into a “fancy university” with frills like a partying atmosphere and Apple stores. This college was perfect in that it was studious, simple and down-to-earth. The course that I ended up doing was very affordable indeed, the most affordable option. I’d encourage you to look into whatever affordable options you can, and spend within your means, living simply instead of extravagantly.
3. Everywhere I went, I felt that God granted me favour with all that I met. I was surrounded by the right people at every turn
This was the amazing part. Only after Everyone that I met was decent, studious, and not at all the “wild” kind of people I expected college students to be. My brother and I went on overnight college trips together as well and were perfectly safe.
4. New opportunities
The favour of God was with me, truly, and there were many opportunities to learn new things, explore new environments and gain new skills. Even the place where I had the internship was so ideal (a solidly Christian environment unexpectedly arranged for me by the college) that I felt God preparing the way before me, teaching me that I needed Him beyond my own wits.
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
5. Doing it together
Having someone to do things with made it better. If you have close friends and siblings, it’s much nicer to attend the same college together. My brother and I grew closer and I was happy to see him unexpectedly develop leadership and ministry skills!
Don’t put God in a box. At the end of the day, it’s not about going to college or not, but trusting Him to guide you.
Regarding polluting or corrupting influences, it’s important to understand that being sheltered or protected by human influence doesn’t really stop anyone from being wrongly influenced – the sin nature is within every one of us because of our forefather Adam’s sin (Romans 5).
Instead of being a Pharisee, concerned about maintaining “my personal holiness”, I learned to be more like Jesus, who found a company among tax collectors and sinners, who was a light in the midst of darkness. God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to overcome, and we must trust Him!
According to my parents and my own experience, over-sheltering and disciplinarian parenting is what causes young people to go “out of control” once the parental boundaries are removed (ie. when their children go off to college). Whereas, if parents follow Proverbs 22:6, the idea is to bring up your children to willingly walk in God’s ways on their own, even when parents are no longer around. (More on that another time!)
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.