To those at university

Dear uni friends,

I haven’t written for a while, and since we last met you’ve travelled far, starting new lives at universities all over the place. I know life hasn’t been easy as you’ve settled, but face each new problem with pure joy, knowing that there’s strength in perseverance. Stick with it and it’ll add to your character. If you’re not sure what to do, turn to your parents – they’re only a phone call away – or turn to our incredibly generous God and trust that He knows what he’s doing. Perseverance builds character. When you ask Him for something, trust that he will give you an answer.

Believe me when I say that it is better to trust in God than to think you know better. Don’t act proud, but live humbly. I know you saved diligently before you moved, but that’ll soon run out if you don’t live within your means. On the bright side though, living with humility leads to blessing and will make you feel more genuinely alive than you ever have before.

If you’re tempted to do anything that you previously thought was wrong, know that you can always say no. You know the difference between right and wrong, and God never leads us to do wrong. Don’t be tricked. All good and perfect gifts are from God, your awesome Father who will be awesome till the end of time. Trust that He is truth and worth believing in.

You’re going to meet loads of new people, so be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry. When you read the Bible or hear good teaching, do it. Don’t ignore it just because your family isn’t watching. Keep the relationship with God burning, listening and learning, humbly serving, keeping your eyes open for those less fortunate than you who need the sort of help you could provide. Not everyone had as good a home life as you!

Most important of all, as you make new friends, don’t show favouritism; treat everyone with the same respect. Not just as you would want to be treated, but better, so that you meet their needs. Don’t become judgmental and discriminate. The rules we live by bring freedom, so live with mercy at the heart of every decision.

On that note, what’s the point in claiming to be a Christian if you don’t live it, breath it, do it. If you see someone who needs clothes or food, and you’ve got enough, share. You know that God is good and totally worth it, so live like you know that. Let’s face it, even the demons know that God is good, but their actions don’t exactly means they want a relationship with him. You do. And that’s worth investing time in.

Now, I know you’ve been young leaders back at the home church. I know how much potential you have. But don’t jump into places of responsibility straight away. Take time to relax, to settle in, to stumble, make a mistake and learn. Leaders get judged; you need to feel welcomed. Control your tongue – don’t let your words and promises control you. Speak humility, grace, patience and mercy into peoples lives. Don’t be tempted to join in with moaning; embrace every opportunity to bless and look for the bright side.

If you want to earn peoples respect – make a lasting good impression – show it by the choices you make, humbly and wisely selected. Don’t hold onto bitterness, envy or selfish ambition. Don’t boast or deny your faith. That’s earthly nonsense (and reminds me too much of the qualities needed to become the 45th president). You’ll know what’s wise because heavenly wisdom is pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, merciful, impartial, sincere and (most importantly) results in good things!

Try as you might, you’ll probably fall out with someone at some point, or make some sort of mistake. Let’s face it, nobody can claim to be perfect, including you and me! If that happens, don’t beat yourself up. Don’t act like a stubborn idiot. God will honour your humility. Go to Him and He will be with you, closer than ever. Ask for forgiveness – it’s free. God will lift you up. Please, please don’t judge those around you if they aren’t living the way you expect. That’s God’s job. Remember your own job, the thing your going to university for in the first place!

Just a thought – don’t boast about what you’re doing in the future. My arrogance led me to years of job hunting, instead of the guaranteed job I was surely entitled to. I had to learn that God was the one in control. It’ll be the same for you.

Be patient, knowing that God is with you every step of the way. You don’t need to worry about the way the world is going – let God be in control of the financial markets, Brexit, World Peace, etc. Pray, knowing you’re making a difference. You know from Open Doors that suffering for Christians is real; those that persevered are blessed. Do what you can, not what you can’t. Let God lead your decision making.

Prayer is everything. Meet someone with problems? Pray for them. Meet someone who’s happy? Thank God! Meet someone who’s ill. Pray for healing (even if you’re studying medicine – you might end up being the way God answers the prayer). If you worried about yourself, I’m here. You have friends. We’re all in the group chat together. We can pray. We are there for you and always will be.

Look forward to seeing you when you’re back near me…

Steve

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