A new semester always brings me a sense of boundless optimism, usually along the lines of “I can do all the things!!” I have trouble remembering the burnout that overcommitment brought me in previous semesters, and feel (once again) like I can conquer the world. I see students do this all the time: adding just one more class, just one more ministry commitment, just one more shift at work. But that “just one more” adds ups. And it costs. It costs in time, sleep, effectiveness and relationships.
The Cost of “Just one more”
One more ministry commitment, means fewer hours each week for real conversations with people who don’t yet follow Jesus. One more class, means less to space to share your life with people you’re sharing the Gospel with. With each commitment, you gain something – another credit, a bigger paycheck, the pride of doing more work in ministry – but you also loose something: room for people in your life.
If we want to be kingdom minded, we need to remember to use wisely what God has given us, which includes time. God may be calling you to serve in a ministry. I daresay He is. But consider carefully how well you will be able to carry out the commitments you make while still having real friendship with people who don’t know Jesus. Many students feel like they need to do a lot of things that can be written on a resume in order to be serving God: lead such and such ministry, organize a number of events, serve on a planning committee. But often kingdom work doesn’t look like an official role. It’s often praying faithfully for friends to follow Jesus and sharing the Gospel with them over studying, coffee, and late night movies.
Those official roles within ministries need to be done, and God may be asking you to take on one of them. But if you think you need to do more than one this semester, carefully consider what it will cost you. Will you have time to be friends with people who are not in your ministry or church? In other words, will you have time to live missionally?
Class and Work can be Missional
As for class and work, those can be a bit harder to navigate. Classes need to be taken and bills need to be paid. But guess what? There are probably opportunites for missional living in your classes and work place! Can you study with people from your classes instead of friends from your ministry? Can you show up at class a bit early – phone put away – and strike up a conversation? If you have any say over your schedule at work, can you try to work with the same people on a regular basis, maybe even the ones that are more difficult to get along with?
I’ve seen many students try to take too many classes and work too many hours. I did the same thing myself when I was in college. So consider, are you taking extra classes out of pride? And are you working that many hours to pay for luxuries you don’t need? What extra expenses could you give up in order to be able to live on a smaller paycheck? Because that smaller paycheck could mean more time to live on mission with God. Giving up busyness in order to live on mission will cost you. But not doing, will cost you so much more.
Heather is a campus minister with Campus Renewal at Cornell University and Ithaca College. She longs to see the church praying and working together to make Christ know. She’s originally from Texas, and it took a man named Andrew to transplant her to the Northeast. She’s glad to leave three digit temperatures behind, but has yet to find a decent tortilla in New York. When she’s not watching Sci-Fi with her husband, she’s usually playing with her dog or reading.