What is the goal of college? A recent Barna study (July 2017) asked over a thousand adults this very question. Out of ten choices, the top two goals were career advancement and money. The bottom two were spiritual growth and character development. Interestingly, practicing Christians provided the same rankings as those without faith. In fact, evangelicals were slightly more likely to pursue college for financial gain than non-Christians.
The outcome of this choice is predictable to anyone with a biblical worldview. As it’s been said, “Aim at heaven and you will get Earth ‘thrown in’: aim at Earth and you will get neither.” To prioritize money and career is to miss true life in this world and the next. But those who seek first the kingdom obtain eternal life and this world’s necessities from a gracious God (Matthew 6:33).
In my nine years as a resident mentor to ivy league college students, I watched students begin with enthusiasm and full of dreams. All too often, they graduated (if they finished) cynical, morally debauched, and without faith in God. To make things worse, they struggled to articulate what exactly they had academically gained from college. The best word to describe their transcript was “random.” While they may have had job offers or the opportunity to enter graduate school, at what cost—financially, academically, morally, and spiritually? They aimed at earth and got neither heaven nor earth.
Seeking first the kingdom isn’t something for when you’re old and depleted of vigor. Seeking first the kingdom is supposed to be practiced at every phase of life, especially in early adulthood. Yet it is remarkable how many people make the first major decision of their life without seeking first the kingdom. As the Barna study shows, they seek first money, pleasure, fame, and comfort. By beginning their lives “in the pattern of this world,” they never experience the transformation that is possible for those who seek God first (Romans 12:2). Jumping on the rat race in college, they hobble through life, filled with doubt and plagued with anxiety, pursuing the hollow American dream.
In this series of blogs, I am going to share how you (if you are a prospective student) can seek first the kingdom now. I'm going to share how you can begin your journey of transformation. Many people make incredible mistakes in selecting a college, but with God's help, you will begin the journey of the abundant life (John 10:10).