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Does God Want Me To Attend College?

Hidden Nuggets Series #54 – “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” – Luke 2:52

should i go to collegeI’m wrapping up my series on college this week with a rather odd question, something that a high school junior or senior might be asking – “Should I go to college and does God care?” Mom and dad sure have made it clear they think it’s important as they’ve been pounding the table for months to get those applications finished. What about God? Does He even have an opinion on college?

To those with no religious inclination this may seem silly. Why consult a higher power at all about a non-spiritual issue like whether to or where to attend college? I understand that line of thinking.

However, for those like myself with a relationship with God it’s huge for several reasons.

Should I Go to College?

For starters, I believe that God is wholly invested in my life. He is not a nebulous essence that floats around the universe, unknowing and uncaring about what I am experiencing. He cares for…check that – loves me deeply and desires the best for my life.

Because of this factor, I can count on Him for wisdom. One of my favorite Bible verses is James 1:5 which reads,

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

That’s a promise from God that He will supply us with wisdom when we ask for it. It’s a guarantee…God does not break His promises.

With that promise in hand, why wouldn’t we ask Him for help in making this or any decision? After all, the decision to attend and where to attend college is one of the biggest decisions a young person can make. It could define the rest of their life.

Jesus was a learner

God’s son Jesus came to earth and experienced a life much like you and I. He had parents, brothers and sisters, helped his earthly father Joseph in the family carpentry business and was involved in ministering to others. He also learned, most likely in the Jewish school system of the day.

We know this because of verses like this one in Luke 2:52,

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”

In this verse, we see three reasons how personal growth and development (i.e. learning) helps us:

1. It increases our wisdom. Through the learning process, we gain experience and knowledge, which hopefully in turn produces better judgment.

2. It builds our stature. As we learn and express our abilities and knowledge, we develop a reputation as having achieved in a particular discipline. Our standing and importance grows in the eyes of others.

3. It produces favor. When we implement our wisdom and our stature grows, favor is produced. We gain the approval and satisfaction of others because we’ve provided them with something of value or helped them solve a problem.

This relates to the “Should I go to college?” discussion in this regard – Has a young person’s wisdom, stature and favor with others been sufficiently developed by age 18? From reviewing my own life and the lives of high school students I’ve touched through the years, I believe most teens would answer “No” to that question if they were being honest.

The accumulation of wisdom, stature and favor has a direct impact on the success level one might find later in life. That’s a fairly compelling argument for continuing your education post-high school.

College Is a Tossup for God

I can’t find a verse in the Bible that says, “Thou shalt attend college.” It’s not in there. So only you can decide the direction God is leading. And, believe it or not, that path can be determined by following some basic steps:

1. Start thinking about college early. Realistically begin thinking about college by 16. Dwell on it. Dream about it. Picture what it will be like. Don’t wait until the last minute to begin thinking about it. A rushed and uneducated decision is a poor one and spells doom.

2. Be honest about your ability to excel. It’s a big sign if you hate high school and don’t like to learn. Avoid pushing a square peg into a round hole. It will never fit.

3. Get wise counsel from trustworthy people who are not your parents. Parents are the #1 stop for advice. You should trust them the most. However, seek out other trustworthy people in your circle of connections. They’ll have perspectives you haven’t considered.

4. List the pros and cons. This always helps me when facing a big decision. Seeing items listed on paper often brings me the clarity I’m searching for.

5. Visit schools. Get out there and put your feet on campus. Walking on campus sidewalks and through buildings will help stir up some feelings. I eliminated several school choices just by being on campus.

6. Pray. Make this a routine habit. As mentioned earlier, ask God for wisdom and clarity in making this decision. He will not turn a deaf ear to your requests.

When you engage in the process by following these steps, God will provide a peace about your specific decision. It may be hard to understand how that peace is being generated. But in that moment it will be obvious what God wants you to do. Then it will simply be up to you to follow through.

Does God care if you go to college? Maybe. With His help you can find an answer to that question.

Questions: What answers have you been receiving when asking the “Should I go to college?” question? Was it hard for you to figure out whether to go to college? How did you finally make the decision? Do you regret your college of choice? What other steps can help in this process?

Image courtesy of Mike at Flickr

Next Post: The Most Basic Thing I Never Understood About Leadership

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  1. How do I pray for God to reveal to me the college He’d have me study in?

    • Great question CeeJay. Don’t know if I have an exact answer for you. But, when I pray over and over about something, I eventually just get a sense of what the right decision is. I get that peace I talked about in the post. I just somehow know the path I’m supposed to take. I believe that is God helping to direct my path.

  2. Seekingthetruth says

    That’s the thing. I am torn between this because i know if i go to University then i will have to be faced with many temptations and sin. All the partying, sex and drug use will always be on my mind if i enter into a University. I dont think God wants me to go to University because of this sinful lifestyle. The other part is, i simply don’t know what i would study at University.

    • I believe as long as we are in the world, we would surely face temptations. What if you start work, and your organisation throws compulsory parties which are sinful? Would you let the fear of temptation prevent you from fulfilling the glorious destiny God has planned for you, as you are called unto glory and virtue (2 Pt 1:3).
      Also, remember, you can do all things through Christ which strengthens you and he has already given you all things that pertains unto life and godliness, so you can overcome!!!

  3. Eric Chamberlain says

    I am an older man…okay a much older man. LOL I am trying to return to college. I am finding that with every hoop I jump through, another is waiting as soon as I clear it. Now things are coming down to the wire at the start of the Fall 2016 semester. I am frustrated that I cant seem to find a way to get everything completed that I need to accomplish on the University’s timeline. I am unusually edgy and sharp with the people closest to me because I want this so badly. I feel that God has given me a second chance to do something important with my life. I completely blew my first shot. I feel SO frustrated that I am not going to find and be able to put all the elements that I need together in time for this to work.

  4. Matt Shreve says

    I believe that the Lord does NOT want us to waste our time on anything that is not of Him. College takes secular humanism and forces you to spend countless hours studying godless concepts, following godless Communist heathen professors and subject yourself to all diverse (did I mention godless) alternative lifestyles. And why do you need to better yourself anyways? Don’t you believe God loves you just the way you are? And what are you trying to prove to the world, that you’re important and smart? Are you trying to compete with the Lord? Look at what the Scriptures say about these things:

    Ephesians 5:11 says “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;”
    Ecclesiastes 12:12 says “But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body.”

    Remember, all this knowledge of the world will not save you if your heart is not right with God. What does it profit a man that he gains the whole world (or the knowledge thereof) and loses his soul?

    • I get where you are coming from with this Matt and I appreciate your enthusiasm for staying separate from the godlessness of the world. As followers of Jesus we do need to be careful about what we get sucked into. And I don’t disagree that secular humanism is a destructive philosophy on college campuses. However…

      If God has given you talents and abilities then it’s being a wise steward to maximize them to your fullest potential. Remember the parable of the talents Jesus told? The person who buried theirs was criticized by the master for not doing anything with it. What would you tell the young Christian with a love for science who wants to help people by becoming a medical doctor? What about the person who desires to teach and wants to become a college professor so they can be a witness for Christ? Should they not pursue these vocations because of some godless concepts that are taught in colleges?

      There are many, many believers working in all kinds of secular jobs who could not be there without a higher education. We can be of this world and exist in it without participating in the godless pursuits we see around us.

      I’m reminded the Bible says that even Jesus was a learner. He increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men. I don’t see increasing knowledge (or college itself) as being an evil thing. It’s a means to an end that can lead us to do great things for God.

  5. This is very interesting to me because I am a 18 year old girl who has graduated highschool in May and I know that God is calling me to speak for him through music it has Always been a calling for me and I don’t see college in any of that. But my parents want me to go they don’t understand that God has a greater purpose for me I do not know what i should do I feel like God doesn’t have anything for me at college or maybe I’m just wrong.

    • I can appreciate your dilemma Maricela. I think you need to analyze a) how would I use my talent to honor God and b) how would I make a living at it. Unless you plan to marry and be a stay at home mom you will have to support yourself. Do you have connections already that could lead to a career in music? College may supply those. Plus, if music was your major you’d learn a lot that would increase your God-given talent all the more and give you even more opportunities. Something to consider…

  6. This was such an interesting post. I often wonder about what God wants me to do. You’d think the answer would be very easy but if it were, I wouldn’t be wondering. I once read a book about all the money anyone has belongs to God and He is judging us on how we spend it vs. give it. The premise was that we should give away all of our money except for you bare minimal needs. But who decides what that is? Food is a need, but do I need that ice cream cone? Should I give the $1 I spend on it to the church instead? Does anyone need clothing beyond the minimal covering for modesty? Should anyone buy a car when they can bike or walk? Should you spend money to go to college if you can learn the same stuff for free on the internet or through the public library? It is quite the conundrum, but if God does want us to be happy, I don’t think he begrudges us spending our money is these ways.

    • “I once read a book about all the money anyone has belongs to God and He is judging us on how we spend it vs. give it. The premise was that we should give away all of our money except for you bare minimal needs.” I completely agree with the first sentence…not so much on the second. In the parable of the talents (money) in the Bible, the master (God) commends the two servants who invested the money he gave them and earned more. The one servant who hid his talent the master denounced. One lesson I take from that story is that we are to use the resources God gives us to grow more resources…because with those increased resources more can be done for Him. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Kathy!

  7. To be honest I don’t there ever really was a choice for me – I always knew I was going to college no matter what after high school. It was just a question of where and if I could afford it. Looking back I think one needs to be really honest with themselves about what they feel a college education will bring to them and what it will accomplish over the long run. There have been many times when I thought about going back for a PhD but could not justify the additional time or expense.

  8. I really enjoyed reading this post. I think college is such an overwhelming experience and picking the right school is extremely important.

    • Thanks Alexis! I was completely overwhelmed my first few months in college, even though I knew I picked the right school. I think being at the right school helped me handle the difficult transition.

  9. Not the way I remotely recommend making a big decision – but a major reason why I went to grad school was because I said a prayer and flipped a coin. 3 times. I figured if some fleece worked for Gideon… fortunately, it really was the right decision.

    • Haha…love the prayer part…the coin not so much. 🙂 Glad it worked out for you in the end. There are times though, like Gideon, when we do have to exercise faith.

  10. Interesting article. More than 3 decades ago God told me to go to law school – ha! Everyone, except my husband, thought I was crazy. We were young, broke and had a kid – did I mention we were very, very, very broke? Well, go I did – to a private, Jesuit law (not cheap by any stretch). Best decision I (ha) ever made. Good advice.

  11. We all have gifts and need to learn what they are and how God wants us to use them. This could include learning skills needed to help heal, or counsel or help others financially, which may or may not require a college education. But we don’t know until we pursue avenues presented to us, even and especially if they are challenging to us, because that’s where the true growth and acceptance lies.

    • “We all have gifts and need to learn what they are and how God wants us to use them.” 100% agree with this Debs. It’s hard to imagine what the church would be like if more people actually took the time to figure this out.

  12. As soon as I saw your post title, I thought back to our high school football captain, a good friend of mine and a devout Christian. He was from a blue collar family – no college education in sight. I found out hrs been given a scholarship to an SEC college to play football and… He declined it. I was so very angry with him (as if this somehow affected me). His reason was that he thought college football would take away his focus on God. Fair. But I countered – don’t you think God provided you this opportunity as a way to reach out to thousands and thousands of people about the importance of your faith?

    I think I dumbfounded him but I think his blue collar parents, with no use for college, prevailed. I think he needed the life experience, as you said, to grow (and to see things for himself, not clouded by his parents). It’s just unfortunate that he didn’t have wise counsel truly guiding him. Maybe it was the right call for him, in the end, but he was heavily influenced by folks with baggage.

    • That’s a very confusing situation Kirsten. Seems like a gift being offered and, like you said, a chance to really make a spiritual impact in people’s lives through being a solid testimony. While I can’t say it was the wrong decision, it does seem like an opportunity missed. Hopefully his life has turned out in a way that he doesn’t regret that decision.

  13. Great post, Brian. God has a perfect plan for every one of us, which may or may not include college. It’s up to us, though, to seek Him first in all that we do so that we can hear His guiding voice and learn His plan for our lives. We work hard to teach our kids to seek Him first, so that they get used to hearing His still, small voice and then better understand what His plan and good will is for their lives based on the gifts and talents He has given them.

    • “…to seek Him first…” Yeah…that’s the problem I routinely deal with. My first inclination is to jump into problem solving mode and rely on my own knowledge/abilities to deal with the issue. If I gave it over to Him first I may not struggle as much as I often do.

      • Samuelson T. says

        @Brian, I also have the same issues. Most times, I just jump into problem solving mode and only after exhausting myself do I ask God for help and He shows me the solution, most times, right away, but always effortlessly.

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