24 Feb Shining stars in Campuses
As students some of the questions we might have faced are (within ourselves or from fellow believing students) – should I be serious about my studies? Should not I be spending more time in witnessing and in organizing Bible studies than for my studies? These are sincere and serious questions, which deserve answers.
The above questions and confusions arise because we assume that our faith is in direct conflict with our studies or work. Stretching it further, we may argue that our fellowship meetings, Bible studies, or church services are far more important than our routine study or work which at times might be boring or require a lot of time and effort from our side.
As students, it is crucial to have the right attitude towards our studies and work. Else, we would do a big disservice to the kingdom of God and in turn, bring dishonor to God’s name. It is important to realize that we were not the first ones who had these confusions. Down the centuries many wrestled with these questions. The scripture gives us lots of principles on the aspect of work thereby giving us insights on integrating our faith with studies and profession/work. On the aspect of relating faith to what we do, three wonderful examples stand out in the Old Testament – Joseph, Nehemiah, and Daniel. All these three men had pagan kings as their masters. But the influence they had on their masters was remarkable. All of them had very crucial roles to play, and that too in very difficult circumstances. Their masters realized that the secret behind their wisdom and excellence was their living faith and their close relationship with the LORD God.
Let us first look at the aspect of work and then consider a few basic principles from the Bible for our student lives to help us integrate our faith with our studies.
1. Work was instituted before the fall
Gen 2:15 reads “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” So, we see that as per God’s original plan, Adam was expected to put in regular time and effort every day to take care of the Garden of Eden. Often, students think that work was a result of the curse. Again, we see in the Ten Commandments the aspect of work. Exo 20:8,9 reads “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work,..”. This verse emphasizes the aspect of putting in hard work in all that we do – not just a casual attitude. The way we do our work tells a lot about our faith.
2. Do Everything for the glory of God
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Cor 10: 31-NIV. Once we are convinced that we are expected to do our studies or work seriously, the next question is – what drives or motivates us? Unfortunately, many students pursue studies for the sole purpose of earning a good salary. Our society – newspapers, media, elders, parents, and sometimes even our fellow believers might give us the wrong kind of motivation to excel in our studies. What is wrong with these attitudes? Money is not bad, but the love of money certainly is fatal. Jesus warned his disciples and told them “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”. This aspect of the love of money is one of the major pitfalls for many students. The best way to counter this is to ‘love the Lord with all your heart’. Our heart is the place of all our affections and desires. So let us make sure all the days of our life that our motivation for all that we are involved in – whether our studies or Bible studies or church or any other activity in our life is to glorify God and to please Him.
Once we are convinced that whatever we do is for God’s glory, we will no longer take credit for the results. Instead, we would put in the very best efforts, leaving the results to God. Just like there is no place for any type of boasting, there should also not be any place for feeling dejected or depressed when we find our studies or work challenging. We can say with Apostle Paul “I can do everything through him (Christ) who gives me strength” Phil 4:13 NIV. Remember, the source of all wisdom is God’s Spirit, and He is abiding within us to help us and to enable us to do all that is pleasing to the Lord.
3. We are Serving the Lord Christ
Once our motivation to study or to be involved in any work or activity is to bring glory to God, then our accountability is primarily to God. Apostle Paul wrote to the slaves in the church at Colossae “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” Col 3:23, 24. This verse is equally applicable to all of us, and all the more to students. What a privilege to realize that we are studying for the Lord! When we feel tired or dejected,we can take comfort in the assurance that I am serving the Lord Christ. Hence, all the power and enablement of the Holy Spirit is available to us. Our duty is to ask the Lord for wisdom and then do our very best.
4. Let your Light shine (Striving for Excellence)
Daniel’s life is a wonderful example of excellence. Daniel’s opponents tried hard to find something wrong in Daniel’s conduct or work. Dan 6:4b says “..They could find no corruption in him because he was trustworthy and neither negligent nor corrupt.” What a testimony – neither negligent nor corrupt! One common mistake we often make is to be over careful about avoiding corruption, but being not so careful about negligence. Often we as Christians are guilty of this sin of omission. Therefore, as a student we should never be negligent in our studies.
Dan 6:3 says “Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and satraps by exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.” Later when Daniel’s opponents plotted and finally could get him thrown into the Lions’ den, we find King Darius so sad. It is amazing to see the way King Darius addressed him (the King must have been sure that Daniel’s God has rescued him from the lions) in Dan 6:20 as, “Daniel, servant of the living God. ..”. What a testimony – Daniel’s master calling him as the servant of the living God!
God’s call to each one of us is to be a Daniel in our respective places so that our Lord’s name is honored and glorified. Jesus told his disciples “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven”.
5. Integrating Engineering Studies with Faith
Many of our students are Engineering students. Engineering is an excellent area where students can excel and be light and salt, thereby bringing so much difference. Engineering teaches problem-solving skills and also ways by which theoretical ideas can be converted to practical reality. As a student, you would be able to use your God-given creativity and innovation in applying your engineering knowledge for useful products or solutions. We need to take our laboratory training very seriously, which is very often forgotten. This is one of the major challenges of engineering education in India. Our country needs committed engineers in all areas to bring quality solutions to the many problems. Be an example to your fellow students in applying skills for the betterment of societal needs.
God has blessed many of us with a sound mind and good intelligence. Consider during higher studies to make an impact in your field. Our country desperately needs committed Christian scientists and engineers to shine for the Lord in their areas, especially out in the field.
6. Be a good student of the world and the word
As a student always remember that we are very privileged, especially in our country. God in his sovereign will has given us this great opportunity to be a student to explore and learn His world and His creation. So never belittle your call as a student. Many of my seniors challenged me to be ‘a student of the Bible and of the World’ or in other words ‘a good student of the Word and the world’.
God has put you in your college as salt to redeem your college and also your discipline of study. So whatever your discipline of study is, ask God’s Spirit to open your understanding to the greater truths of the Bible, so that you could learn how to be a redeeming/transforming agent in your area of study. Take time to read the biographies of Christian missionaries, scientists, doctors, social reformers, and writers, who took their faith seriously and made such an influence in their society. It is worth reading the biographies of William Carey, John Newton, William Wilberforce, Dr. Edward Jenner, Dr Paul Brand, James Clerk Maxwell, CS Lewis, and others.
In closing, may the God of all wisdom fill us with such wisdom and insight that we become a transformational agent in our college, in our fellowship, and in our church.
Dr Joseph John has been actively involved with UESI since his student days. He is an active member of the Bombay EGF. He is currently working as a Professor in the Department of Electrical Engg, at IIT Bombay, Mumbai.