Hello, my name is Amy. I ...

Amy asked:

Hello, my name is Amy. I am a freshman in college. I struggling with the idea, that college maybe isn't for me or I'm not ready yet. I know God has called me to do something great, but what, I don't know. However, He has put missions on my heart recently and I think I would have abilities to offer. I am a singer who currently leads worship at church and I would love to continue to do that. I'm pretty sure my parents would have a cow if they knew I was considering something other than college but I just want to make sure I'm doing the right thing.Amy

Jack Answered:

Thanks, Amy, for opening your heart about your uncertainties regarding your college experience. Many young people your age are not yet sure what they want to do or be and yet their parents are expecting that of course they will go on to college.

I think part of what your parents fear, and the reason you sense that they would be very unhappy if you dropped out, is that if you begin working you may develop a relationship with a young man, get married, start having babies and will never get that college education, which for many is essential for “success” in the U.S. in these days. Undoubtedly their fear is based on what they see has happened to others.

I am glad that you are interested in missions. However, Amy, increasingly if someone wants to be a missionary they really need a college education. When you apply for a visa, almost any country will want to know what it is that you can contribute to their culture and people beyond just “religion.”

As you think of being a missionary, what would you like to do? What contribution would you like to make? How did you feel called to missions?

You are interested in singing. Why don’t you major in music? It’s one thing to lead worship in a church with sound equipment and all the backup, but really learning to develop your voice is something else, as well as understanding music theory, harmony, and possibly even composition.

What program are you in, or haven’t you declared a major as yet?

As I have expressed before in other answers, my understanding of a college education is that in addition to preparing for a career, a fundamental part (and possibly the major part for most students) of the college experience is to develop you as a person. More than high school, college pushes you to engage with the world, forces you to think more deeply, often gives you opportunity to travel and meet the kind of people you have never met before. You also encounter problems and issues you haven’t had to grapple with. It should be a “growing up” experience, as well as learning facts and making decisions as an adult.

If you are interested in being a missionary, even if you are studying in a secular college, you need to take a course or two in philosophy, history, possibly international relations, even economics. Make friends with foreign students – ask about their homeland, their experiences as children and young people, their aspirations for their country, etc. Get involved in a Christian student group and learn to share the Gospel in a tough environment. Learn to lead a Bible study. Take leadership training. Make your college experience an opportunity to grow as a disciple of Christ.

During the summer, I would encourage you to get involved in at least one mission trip that will stretch you. I heartily recommend the Spearhead program of the Latin America Mission which will give you two or more months in Mexico, an opportunity for language learning and hands on ministry. You’ll stay with a Mexican family and come to grips with what it means to be part of a Christian community overseas. You’ll come back with a much greater appreciation for your privileges as an American college student and also a deeper understanding of what missions is all about, even if you don’t return to Latin America.

If you become part of InterVarsity or another student Christian group, they undoubtedly have “urban plunges,” opportunities to live and work in the inner city – to open your eyes to the “under side” of American life. This experience can be life changing and also great preparation for life in the Developing World.

I trust my comments will be a help to you as you ponder the next year. If you really don’t want to return to college, sit down and prepare your thoughts carefully. Present other options to your parents. They really love you and want the best for you. At this moment (and probably most of us in the older generation) they lean heavily on the value of a college education – now, before you get distracted.

But, the Lord has a plan for us all. Keep seeking Him; keep asking questions of others; talk frankly and openly with your parents; and He’ll guide you.

Jack

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