By Matt Taylor
Matt is on staff with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship at the University of California, Irvine.
I meet them every year: Christian Pre-med students at UC Irvine’s renowned school of Biological Sciences. They’re here to get their M.D., and then they plan to go overseas and become medical message bearers.
I’m always thrilled to see students passionate about reaching the world for Christ, and I invite them to come with me and lead a Bible Study on our campus: “Come participate in the mission here!” But their response is almost invariably the same…
“Pre-med is a demanding course of study, and I don’t have time for that.” As much as the hopeful person in me wants to believe that these folks will stay true to their vision, the realist in me doubts they’ll ever make it overseas. We learn faithfulness in the Now.
It is a beautiful and dangerous thing to see students mobilized for the cause of global proclamation. It has shaken the foundations of our world time and again.
But if we want to be effective, if we want to be a real threat to the powers and principalities of this world, we must begin our preparation and developing our character right now.
Jesus gives a fascinating little teaching in Luke 16:10 (NRSV): 10’Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.
Jesus teaches us that if we are not faithful with our use of the resources available to us in this season of our lives, we will not be given more in the next season.
But if we are faithful with “a very little” he’s offering us right now, soon we’ll have “much.” As college students we have a unique season, an open window of opportunity that we dare not squander. Faithfulness in the Now leads to an increase in responsibility.
Many of the students that I meet have no concept for intentional growth in character and integrity. They lack perspective on their growth. They believe that they will graduate and immediately become seasoned, wise, and dynamic message bearers. But where and how are they investing to build their character in the Now.
I pity the person who goes into the mission field without a few present failures under his/her belt! Better to learn how to face failure now, than to see your faith disintegrate when you get to China and your carefully planned strategies don’t work.
Better to learn how to deal with interpersonal conflict now, than to see your team fall apart on the front lines.
There is no silver bullet to develop character. No book will make you a perfect leader. No curriculum will take away all of your bad habits.
No teacher can give you all the lessons you need to learn. If you want to become a message bearer upon graduation, it is pivotal to do all the preparation necessary now.
You want to someday start a prayer movement… How about starting a weekly prayer meeting on your campus? You want to love the poor like Mother Teresa… how about you volunteer to tutor underprivileged children this month.
You want to become a great evangelist… How about starting one friendship with a non-Christian tomorrow?
You want to go to another culture and bring the gospel… How about starting one friendship with someone of another ethnicity where you regularly talk about how race and ethnicity affect each of you?
Integrity, character, faithfulness, discipline, wisdom… these aren’t intangible and magical gifts God gives us when we graduate. These are the present lessons Jesus wants to teach us as we learn to follow his call to global proclamation in the Now!