University campuses across the nation are canceled due to COVID-19. For many Christian students this pulls you away from your campus ministries and the churches in your university context. Although you’re still taking classes online you may feel you have a lot of time on your hands, and no help for growing spiritually. You may be tempted to use this time to catch up on Netflix, video games, social media, or simply to take a break from the busy schedule you’ve been keeping.
That may be fine for a few days, but I want to challenge you to not waste this unique season God has provided. Endeavor to deepen your intimacy with Christ and to continue to pursue his command to make disciples. School may be canceled, but the mission isn’t. Paul instructs us:
Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Eph. 5:15–17)
With this in mind, here are three simple ways you can “redeem the time” the Lord is giving you during this season.
1. Don’t Isolate Yourself
The book of Proverbs says, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment” (Prov. 18:1).
One of the enemy’s primary strategies is to get believers isolated so he can take them out. If you’ve ever watched the Discovery Channel you know that lions first go after the young and the sick, but most of all they attack those isolated from the rest of the herd. “Sin demands to have a man by himself,” Dietrich Bonhoeffer observed. “The more isolated a person is, the more destructive the power of sin is over him.”
School may be canceled, but the mission isn’t.
I once saw a video of a pack of wolves trying to attack a baby musk ox separated from its herd. As the wolves started to attack, the herd noticed and charged straight toward the action, forming a circle around the baby. They continued circling until the wolves decided to leave. Every follower of Christ needs a community like that. The best way to overcome temptation is to have a group of like-hearted people to run with. Paul warns, “Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22).
You may not be able to go to your college ministry’s large-group meeting, but you can still connect using technology with a few close believing friends. A weekly call with two or three others can make all the difference in keeping yourself encouraged and motivated spiritually.
2. Deepen Your Discipleship Relationships
This season is a perfect opportunity to deepen your relationships with those you’re discipling. If you’re being discipled, be sure to pursue that person to continue meeting up with you, even if it’s over the phone or Skype.
If you are the discipler, help the other person make stretch goals in their spiritual disciplines. Goals such as praying for an hour a day, memorizing two verses a week, or fasting once a week are great ways to grow in the Lord. Give them books to read, memorize verses together, labor in prayer together over the phone together. Challenge them to take an online course like Perspectives or one of many provided by The Gospel Coalition.
If in-person discipleship groups are not possible, technology like Zoom or Google+ hangouts can be a great way to continue connecting. The last few summers our ministry has led online discipleship groups, and they’ve been life-changing. We read a book together, discuss it, memorize one verse a week, and then keep each other accountable for some basic spiritual disciplines.
This season is a perfect opportunity to deepen your relationships with those you’re discipling.
My advice for online discipleship groups is to ensure they’re small enough (three to five people) to allow for lots of sharing, accountability, and prayer. It’s also helpful to have clear expectations and at-home learning assignments. Accountability in a situation like this is vital.
3. Use Spare Time to Grow in Wisdom
“A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash” (Prov. 15:14, NLT).
So much of what we encounter in this world is garbage. The problem, though, is that pursuing wisdom isn’t always easy. It doesn’t come from mindlessly scrolling through your newsfeed. God wants to give us real wisdom, his wisdom, but we have to intentionally pray and work for it.
Here’s a truth you need to embrace: you don’t know what you need to know to live the life God has called you to live.
Wisdom is not simply head knowledge; it is a deep understanding of God and how life really works. It is so much deeper than mere intelligence.
Wisdom is not simply head knowledge. Wisdom is a deep understanding of God and how life really works.
The book of Proverbs was written to give knowledge and discernment to the young. You definitely fit in this category if you’re a college student. There is a built-in disadvantage to being young—not having lived long enough to know all the questions you should be asking. Ever heard the phrase “wisdom beyond your years”? There’s a reason people note it when they see it—because it’s rare. As pastor Harold Bullock says, “Teachability is the only shortcut to success in life.”
This is the perfect time to get a jump start on gaining wisdom. Let me challenge you to constantly be pumping your head with great audio resources like an audio Bible, sermon podcasts, or solid audiobooks. Bonus points if you read real paperback books. Setting goals for studying or memorizing Scripture is a perfect way to grow in wisdom. Use time that other people waste to grow in wisdom!