Are the ways I minister on a daily basis establishing an appropriate model for my college students?
This is a question I’ve been pondering a lot recently. College ministry is both a wonderful privilege and a deeply heavy responsibility. We’re doing our students a disservice when we model something that runs contrary to the gospel. What you do and don’t do, the way you carry yourself, and the time you spend says just as much as your words. The ways in which we minister to our students are a model for their life. Everything we do during these formable years influences them. So whether you’re a full-time college-age minister or a volunteer leader, let us drop the facade we tend to guard and start asking ourselves difficult questions. I know I had to, and I also had to repent for my foolishness.
Here are some helpful questions for those in college ministry to ask:
1. Am I an approachable person?
2. Do I seem too busy to talk?
3. How do I talk about the ministry and the church I am a part of?
4. What does my schedule say about my priorities?
5. Do I openly admit when I don’t have the answer?
6. Am I faithful to show up on time to meetings and keep appointments I make with students?
7. How much time do I spend preparing for a worship service compared to how much time I spend with students? (This question is essential. We spend a lot of time preparing for a 1.5-hour service and miss great relational opportunities throughout the week.)
A verse that has been particularly impactful to me is 1 Timothy 4:12. Paul writes, “Instead, you should be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (HCSB)
We would be wise to pay close attention to these areas in our life:
In speech- What does my language say about me? Do I intentionally engage others with the gospel? Do I seek to encourage the students God has entrusted to me? Am I simply known as a fun person, or do I engage the hearts of my students?
In conduct- Do I manage my time well? If you’re married, do you set a good example by prioritizing your family above ministry? When I’m on the college campus, do I follow the guidelines set out by the administration? (Many times Christian ministries will do things without following the guidelines of the campus: stable flyers to walls, hold services, etc. We need to make sure we’re cultivating good relationships with the campus administrators.)
In love- Do my relationships set a good example for my students? Am I only seeking out students who I think the ministry will benefit from having their involvement? The students you spend your time talking to will say something about what you value. Are you seeking out the student who is socially awkward and will take some work to get connected?
In faith- Is my life marked by a strong confidence in God? Does prayer have a large role in both my personal life and ministry? What do my reactions say about what I believe about God when things go wrong in ministry?
In purity- Have I taken measures to ensure I have accountability in my life? Do I understand how to “put off” unhealthy thoughts and “put on” godly thoughts? Is my conduct honorable among those of the opposite sex?
I leave you with a word from Paul: “But you, man of God, run from these things, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the faith; take hold of eternal life that you were called to and have made a good confession about in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:11-12)
I am praying God continues to do a great work among this generation through your ministries. Don’t give up. He is worth it.
Brian Owen is the college-age ministry pastor at New Vision in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He is also President of College Leader (collegeleader.org) and blogs regularly there. He primarily serves the campus of Middle Tennessee State University. Connect with him via Twitter.