Three university graduates have written letters to their former fresher selves. Have a read below to learn from their advice on how best to honour God in your attitudes, habits, sport and studies at uni.
Simon was at the University of Leicester from 2011-2014.
As you start university here is my advice:
University will throw lots of opportunities at you, choose a few, choose wisely and commit fully!
Hear this from 1 Peter 2:11-12:
11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
Kate was at the College of St Paul and St Mary (now Uni of Gloucestershire), 1981-1985
So, you’re about to start this next chapter of your life. I expect you feel a combination of excitement and nerves. In years to come, you’ll remember the friends you made and the experiences you enjoyed, but there could be things you’ll regret, so let me give you my four top tips to help you navigate the next 3 years!
You won’t be the only one feeling anxious at heading into a new environment, so do look out for others in the same situation. It would also be worth finding a mature Christian either back at home or in your new church, who could walk alongside you and who could ask you the tough questions when things don’t go as you would want.
Establish good patterns to enable you to grow as a Christian. Get stuck into a local church where God’s Word is clearly explained. Be diligent in reading the Bible regularly and taking time to pray for yourself too.
Don’t expect to get everything right. You’ll make some poor judgements and have some unhelpful relationships but be willing to admit this and be prepared to ask for God’s help (and others too), so these experiences make you a better not a bitter person!
Be Outward looking
As you get stuck into your course and as you play your hockey, look for opportunities to point others to Christ, both by the words you say (and how you say them) and by your actions. This doesn’t mean being perfect - you won’t manage that! In fact, it will do much for people’s understanding of the Christian message, if you can show that it is ok to get things wrong, that you’re accepted by Christ, not on the basis of your performance but on the basis of what he has done for you in dying on the cross.
As you pack your bags, I want to echo Paul’s words to the Philippians in 1:9-11:
9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ-to the glory and praise of God.
Sophie was at Leeds University from 2008-2011.
Get perspective on your three years at university. Don’t be consumed by the now and think it will last forever, because it won’t. It’s such a unique time and you will make friends for life, and learn vital lessons.
Don’t think of your sporting life as separate from your Christian life, or less important. Be careful not to end up in a Christian bubble, being so busy with church and CU that you have no time for sport. See this as your mission field at university. It’s such a fantastic way of building great friendships with non-believers. Invest in these relationships.
It’s never easy to ask people to read the Bible with you, but at university friends have more time and are often open to new things. Use Uncover, or another great resource to read the Bible with a teammate. It will be feel slightly uncomfortable to ask, but think of the good news you’re sharing with them. What’s the worst thing that can happen?
Do invest in strong Christian friendships at uni too though. It’s so much easier to be a strong witness when you can be encouraged and pray with others. Plug into a prayer group, whether that’s the Christians in Sport group on Wednesday mornings, or a CU or church group. They are a great way of getting others to pray for your teammates.
Remember this idea in your sports team from John 17:14-15: Be in the world but not of the world.
Be there, right in the mix of training and socials, but be different. It can be such a powerful witness when people see you having a good time, without being fuelled by alcohol!
Make it your goal to glorify God in your work, sport, and friendships at university!
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