I am in the middle of a 6-part series helping Christian students think through how to prepare for life at a big university. This topic is particularly relevant, I hope, given the number of high school seniors who are in the middle of deciding where they will go to college in the fall.
This little series is based on a recent lecture I gave to the Regents School in Austin, Texas, where I laid out 6 principles designed to help rising college students think more clearly about what’s ahead. It’s also based on my book, Surviving Religion 101. You can read the prior installments here and here.
We now come to a third consideration for rising Christian college students: “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger.”
No, this is not a quote from Kelly Clarkson. It was actually first said (as far as I know) by Friedrich Nietzsche. But it does capture a Christian principle, namely that opposition can actually be a blessing.
Indeed, this is true in other areas of life. For a weightlifter, or professional athlete, the pain of resistance can actually create more strength and endurance. Back in my soccer playing days, I can still remember the dreaded end of practice when we would run “lappers” around the field (a grueling endurance routine that still today makes me feel nauseated). As the players wilted in the heat, straining to take the next step, an outside observer might think the coach was out to destroy us. One might even think we were being punished for some misdeed.
But, as a player, you knew better. You knew your coach was just preparing you for the state tournament at the end of the season when every last drop of endurance would be needed.
In a similar way, the opposition at the university environment, as strange as it sounds, can be a tremendous benefit. It can shape a student into a better, more fit believer who can serve God in unique and exceptional ways—ways that would be impossible in an opposition-free life.
For one, opposition will force students to figure out what they really believe. [Read more…]