myMISSION Collegiate Blog

Experience Joy beyond the Surface

flower petal on water's surface

As a college student, I find that my life is characterized by a constant whirlwind of activity. Moving through my day, I am always surrounded by friends, classmates, and professors. But I rarely take the time to get to know these people beyond the surface level. In fact, I could probably recite most conversations I have as if I were reading off a script.

The way the Bible talks about relationships, though, is vastly different from the reality I so often experience. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Being in relationship with others should make everyone stronger and draw everyone involved closer to God. How can we begin cultivating these iron-sharpening-iron relationships?

Start with honesty. When someone asks how you are, it is OK to admit that you are stressed out, scared, or overwhelmed. Moving past surface-level responses, even to basic questions, breaks down the shiny façade we often present to others. This step is so vital to forming authentic relationships that build up one another in Christ.

Where 2 or 3 Are Gathered

friends on a bench

I am so blessed and grateful to have loving friends who take time to be intentional and invest in my life. These Christ-centered relationships are incredibly meaningful and encourage me to pour into others. My sweet friend Anna, who is a junior in college, is passionate about building these kinds of authentic relationships, so I asked her to share some of her thoughts and experiences:

Why do you think it is important to grow deeper in relationships?

“Thinking back to my middle school [years], high school [years], and even first years at college, I see how much I was poured into. I’m so grateful to have had such incredible people around me that wanted to invest in me, but I also know the gaps that I felt were not as invested in. I needed people who would ask questions until I was finally open and honest about what was truly going on. I needed people who would send that quick text of encouragement that perfectly matched what I was dealing with. I needed older mentors who would prioritize spending time with me because they wanted to be available for me.”

What are some ways you intentionally invest in friendships?

5 Tips to Strengthen Relationships

young women at park

God established the idea of community in the Garden of Eden, and this theme is woven throughout the Bible. But if relationships are so foundational to Christian life, why do we often struggle with them? There is no easy answer, but we can take some steps to improve and invest in our friendships.

Transform your mind-set. Instead of seeing relationships as time-consuming or difficult, consider how they can enrich your life. Since American culture places such a large emphasis on timeliness and productivity, it is easy to forget to make time for others. To change this mind-set, it is helpful to remember that God sees each person as precious and worthy. When developing relationships, it is essential to embrace this mentality. People are important, and spending time in fellowship with others helps you learn and grow.

Be present. When you spend time with people, remove distractions. Put your phone away, and try to go somewhere without TVs or loud music. Slowing down and unplugging from technology allows you to engage in the current moment and demonstrates respect for your relationship.

Excuses, Excuses

Every day God gives us opportunities to share His love with people around us. But how often do we walk right past these open doors? If you are anything like me, then you have a million reasons for missing these opportunities that you wrap up in pretty little packages with bows on top.

But in the end, these fancy explanations are just excuses. We have to recognize them for what they are and learn to overcome them.

Here are some common excuses I recognize in my life:

Pride

What will people think about me if I share the gospel with them? Will it be awkward? What if they reject me?

Well, it turns out these are all the wrong questions. My natural tendency is to focus on how I am affected by an interaction rather than thinking about how God can be glorified through it. In these situations, I am continually reminded to shift my focus to God.

On Campus Yet in the World: 5 Missions Opportunities for College Students in 2018

Happy New Year! It’s officially 2018. As you begin to think about all that’s in store this year, is God nudging you to become more involved in sharing His story with others locally, nationally, and globally? With another semester upon you, it may be difficult to see beyond the next couple of weeks. But God can use this season of your life to spread the good news among those who desperately need to hear it. Whether you have a weekend, an entire semester, or a long-term opportunity on your heart, check out these ways to use your time as a student to further the kingdom of God:

Weeklong/Weekend Missions Trips

Ask God to show you opportunities to share His love with others. Learn about the needs of people around you and how missions trips could be a tool for you to meet those needs, beginning with a week or a weekend. Plant seeds of the gospel in the hearts of those you serve by explaining why you care and want to help. Look for opportunities to expand your conversations and share about the hope Jesus offers.

10 Ways to Use Your College Break to Reach Others for Christ

Your car is packed, the fridge is empty, and you’re longing to turn in that last paper so you can finally head home for Christmas. But don’t leave your passion for missions behind with your books. As you prepare to make the trek home for some much-needed rest and home-cooked meals, consider these opportunities that await you in between semesters:

Step 1: Prayer

As much as I hate to admit it, many times my prayers closely resemble the Christmas lists I used to mail to Santa as a child—a list of very selfish wants and needs. While my requests to God have matured just as I have, they still very often revolve around me: “Lord, help me focus so I can ace this test,” or “give me the patience to deal with my co-workers.”

When I do extend my circle of prayer, it is usually to include my friends and family who I know have a relationship with Jesus Christ. But what about those who don’t? Why is it so important to pray for those who don’t yet know of God’s love, and how do we do it?

God is working in people’s lives long before they hear the gospel. That work continues with our prayers. It is the catalyst that ignites the desire to know God. When spreading the gospel, we are engaging in spiritual warfare. Prayer is one of the greatest weapons we have when fighting the enemy (Eph. 6:16–18).

Be Strong and Take Heart

Sharing the gospel is no easy thing. Neither is giving up spring break to go on a missions trip or evangelizing your late night study group. But God calls us to declare His glory among all people (1 Chron. 16:24), and that is what we must do.

I was 13 the first time I remember “formally” sharing the gospel with other people. As one of the only girls in my missions group, I was volunteered to speak to the residents of the homeless shelter where we had spent the previous week working. I was terrified. To tell the truth, I don’t even remember what I said. What I do remember is praying all morning, nonstop, that God would give me the courage to share His story and the words to do it.

Don’t Get ahead of Yourself

Sometimes I get so far ahead of myself on a project or a task that I forget what the original task was. I skim through the instructions, fail to ask my professor for any tips or guidelines, and dive headfirst into whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing—until I get stuck. Then, frustrated, I am forced to go back, reread, and ask questions, merely to discover I was only about 15% right in the direction I was headed.

Someone once reminded me that if you don’t have time to do it right the first time, what makes you think you’ll have time to redo it later? It’s some of the best advice I’ve ever received. Unfortunately I catch myself doing this with the gospel as well. I will set out in hopes of sharing the news of Jesus Christ without first talking with my Teacher and heading His instructions through prayer.

Extraordinary Blessings in Ordinary Places

I like to consider myself a person who delights in the simple pleasures of life. A cup of coffee in the morning, a hug from a friend, or an afternoon spent driving with my windows down can lift my spirits more than an expensive trip to a spa or any sort of “retail therapy.”

Recently the Lord has been teaching me to see these small comforts as they are meant to be seen: as blessings from Him. Second Corinthians 1:3 says God is the “God of all comfort” and James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above.” So it is obvious that any happiness we derive from the little things, as long as they are free from sin, comes as a gift from the Lord.

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