How many times do you think the average parent tells his or her child, “You need to eat your vegetables, little Johnny, or Jane?” A lot.
And how many times do you think it would take to tell an adult this same thing before you’d end up with a plate of smashed food in your face? Probably not a lot.
Children need instruction, and adults do, too, but in a different flavor. And no one likes to be repeatedly told what to do all the time.
College students often feel like they’re being treated childishly. It may not be advice about their vegetables, but between parents and teachers, media and bosses, they’re constantly bombarded with advice about doing this, or not doing that.
It’s a tricky balance when we talk about lending them advice, then. While we don’t want to baby them or preach to them, we do want to guide them toward their God-imaged identity (Genesis 1:27) as an adult (Titus 2).
Drawing from a posture of humility and connecting, versus answers and instructing, college students are craving your affirmation and observations more than you know.
Here are three things—not a script, or life-changing formula, but simply words (that you can put into your own words)—we believe any college student will benefit to hear.
1) Less is more.
“There are SO many decisions and options and opportunities at your fingertips right now. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to some things, in order to focus more fully on others. For instance, when you consider church and campus ministries, instead of visiting a new one every week, how about considering a commitment to one for this whole year? Or in friendships, I’ve found that a handful where I know and am known leaves me far healthier than a hundred acquaintances.”
2) I’m here for you.
“College can be overwhelming. Whether it’s the amount of decisions, or the complexity of relationships, it can seem as if you’re treading water and moving fast in no good direction. But I’ve found this tendency in myself and am slowly learning that where we are right now is a ‘season,’ and will soon shift into another season. And it’s gonna be all right. In the meantime, I want you to know that I’m here for you—to listen, talk, pray, play, whatever you think you need.”
3) God is here for you.
“A lot of times in the midst of stress, or hard times, I forget that God is dedicated to my good. But His Word promises that He never lets anything happen that isn’t ultimately for my good (Romans 8:28). In other words, even though at the time it doesn’t always seem like it, God’s goodness, and the goodness we long for, are one and the same. In light of whatever situation you find yourself in today, remember that God is for you, not against you. He is at work and is out for your best.”
XP3 College offers Conversation Guides for mentors and small group leaders to connect older adults with 18-25 year olds. XP3 College also offers a transition piece, called XP3 Next, for High School seniors and an ongoing connection piece for the first semester away. For more information, visit www.xp3college.org.