My book on spiritual leadership for teenage men is GUARD: Guys Understanding Authority and Real Discipleship (available in the store). I wrote GUARD while a senior at Freed-Hardeman University (2006), and it has just been released in its second edition. GUARD is also the text for a non-competitive event in the Lads to Leaders program. Here is an excerpt, on going off to college as a Christian, from the new edition.
Where are you going to college? This is an important question, and it deserves some serious thought. If you are a serious student of the Bible and want to spend four years growing closer to God and being encouraged to do the kinds of spiritual things we’ve discussed in this book, then the best way to fulfill your college needs is for you to attend a Christian college.
Do you want to attend devotionals with many other Christian college students three or four nights a week? Do you want to make Christian friends who will be yours for a lifetime? Do you want to attend Bible classes taught by faithful preachers of the Gospel? Do you want to be able to spend time with any number of young Christian women? Do you want to feel safe and secure, among a large group of peers who love the Lord as you do? If you are the kind of person who has read this book and carefully considered the biblical principles we’ve highlighted, then you probably are already enthusiastic about getting a Christian education.
At Freed-Hardeman University (Henderson, Tennessee) or Faulkner University (Montgomery, Alabama), you can receive a quality education in a healthy, supportive Christian environment. I earned degrees at both schools and have grown close to many among their administration and faculty. I firmly believe that, through the fine honors colleges at these two institutions, a person can earn an Ivy League-quality education at a small liberal arts school. I never have regretted choosing a Christian undergraduate education.
Now, there are many colleges and universities in our brotherhood, but the biblical principles which guide the faculty and administration are strong at FHU and Faulkner. They are not the only two schools at which someone may receive a quality Christian education. However, the leaders of some of our Christian schools have gone out of their way to water down their emphasis on the Bible and spiritual things. Be careful as you choose a college.
Christian Leadership at College
College can be a wonderful experience during which you grow closer to God and to a group of dedicated friends. Make it the best experience possible. The following five bits of advice did not originate with me. They are five of the best suggestions I received from my mentors (all faithful Christian leaders) as I prepared for college; they helped me make the most of my college experience. I hope they will serve you as well as they have served me.
1. Never Turn Down an Opportunity to Lead. Anytime you are asked to lead singing, lead prayer, preacher, or read Scripture in an assembly, do it. Even if you feel that you are limited in preparation time, say yes and do your best. If you put this principle into practice, you will receive more and more chances to lead, and you will develop your skills, particularly when you place your membership at a congregation near your college and determine to work under the oversight of a faithful group of elders (Hebrews 13:7,17). Settle in to one flock and take advantage of every opportunity.
2. Personalize Your Leadership. You will respect and admire many faithful Christian leaders. This does not mean you have to preach exactly like them or act exactly like them. Imitate their faithfulness (1 Corinthians 11:1), but do not necessarily imitate their style or mannerisms. Be your own man.
3. Don’t Sow Your Wild Oats. Don’t go through a period when you rebel against God, your parents, your principles, and everything you’ve ever been taught. If you “sow your wild oats,” you may destroy your good reputation. Make spiritually positive memories of your college days; these memories will stay with you as long as your mind does. Stay true to your spiritual moorings (Joshua 1:18). Put simply, don’t go crazy.
4. Pay Attention to Children and Old People. Senior saints have a lot to offer, including great wisdom and insight, refined through years of experience. For this there is no substitute (Proverb 16:31; 1 Timothy 5:17). Pick out valuable mentors and seek their advice. Don’t ignore the old. Also, take opportunities to help children. Be a mentor. Work with kids so that you won’t be totally inexperienced when you become a father. Share your knowledge with them, teaching them to be good to each other and to serve the Lord.
5. Don’t Be Discouraged by the Spiritual Immaturity of Others. As a spiritual leader in college (even a Christian college), you will observe that many of your peers know little about the Bible, and have only a shallow relationship with God (see Hebrews 5:12). Many are apathetic, not only about the Kingdom of God, but about life in general (see Proverb 6:9-11). They may criticize your leadership simply because they cannot understand the significance of your service. Don’t let this get you down or hinder your work for the Lord.
I am grateful for my Christian education. Because of the godly influences at FHU and Faulkner, I grew spiritually and socially, and was prepared academically for my doctoral program. I am just as thankful that I was able to spend some years working with the faithful brethren of the Henderson church of Christ in Henderson, Tennessee, and of the University Church of Christ in Montgomery, Alabama. I pray each of you will have a college experience as constructive as mine.1)
Caleb Colley, GUARD: Guys Understanding Authority and Real Discipleship, 2nd edition (Gurley: Colley Books, 2013), 119-121 ↩