This past week I was reminded again how prideful students can be. Though they just have 18-22 years of experience under their belt, they often think they are wiser and more Godly than their college pastors.

Get campus ministers together, and they can all tell stories about students in their ministries who came to them with a “better way” to do ministry. There may well be a better way, but approaching a man or women who is 10-20 years older than you and has given their life to serving students to tell them they have everything wrong is pretty audacious, don’t ya think?

That’s why Peter gave these commands.

Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  I Peter 5:5,6

The Folly of Youth

I experienced this in two ways this week. First, I met with one such student who did not like the way we were doing things. I won’t share any more about that conversation. Secondly, I saw it in myself.

I have been rereading my old journals each morning. This week I read about a frustrating exchange I had with my youth pastor when I was a senior in high school. In essence, I was telling him that I wanted to do more for God than just being a youth pastor. I was saying this to the very guy that led me to follow Jesus. What arrogance!

In the journal I wrote about how mad I was because he basically encouraged me not to think that way. He said, “There are no big and small ways to serve God. We are all just called to do whatever God has called us to do… to just play our role in the Body of Christ.” It was God’s plain truth spoken to a cocky little seventeen year old, but I would not hear it back then.

Wisdom Comes With Age

Here I am at age thirty-nine, and I find myself telling college students the exact same thing my youth pastor said to me 22 years ago.  I say the same thing because students so often get stuck in comparing themselves and their ministries to others in a way that is harmful to the Body of Christ and to themselves.

I really listen to students who have a problem with the way we are doing things. I take it to the Lord and to our staff and student leaders to consider if changes need to be made. Sometimes changes are made in the ministry, and sometimes it’s clear that what needs to change is the heart of the disgruntled student.

I love the clever phrase: “The older I get the smarter my parents get.” Meaning, the older I get the more I see what they were telling me was true. The same could be said for your college pastors. They have lived quite awhile longer than you have and they love you and the campus more than you know. Maybe, like me, you’ll be rereading your old college journals years from now before you see this is true.

Justin Christopher is the national campus director for Campus Renewal Ministries and the author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He facilitates CRM’s Partnering Campus Project and also gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the missional community movement at the University of Texas.