Dear First Year
I write this letter to you on the evening before I meet with one of you–a sweet sister who graciously asked to spend some time with me before she heads off to her first campus in the coming days.
As I am praying for her and asking God what He would have me share with her, the hundreds of others of you entering this same season have come to my mind.
I don’t claim to have much wisdom of my own on the topic, but I do have some experience.
It’s been nearly a decade since I stepped foot on the campus of Murray State University as a bright eyed staff girl.
Since then the Lord has taken me on a journey that has included marriage, babies, moving states and continents to where He has us now serving in China.
As I think through what I want to impart to you, or better yet what I wish I knew or would have realized when I was in your shoes, the following thoughts come to mind:
Know without a shadow of a doubt why you are doing what you are doing.
Let it be yours! Not something you simply adopted from a campus ministry as a student.
Have you really been moved and compelled with vision for these girls that you are going to serve? Time will tell.
Too often I think many students adopt the vision of their leader and or organizations, yet really are not penetrated by such.
Do not let that be you, sister.
Sit down in your closet or quiet space, get alone with the Father and delve into your heart as to why you are truly following Him into this life, because it’s not an easy one.
List out every tattoo verse you can come up with. What I mean by tattoo verse is that this passage is so written on your heart, such a motivation for obedience that you would tattoo it on your body.
One day not too far from today, you will be alone and crying, thinking what have you gotten yourself into and why in the world are you doing this.
You pull out that notebook, those verses, and meditate on those convictions you received from your Heavenly Father.
You need to be convinced without a doubt on day one when your emotions are steady and your vision is hot, because when you are overcome by negative emotions the doubt will creep in and you need to be able to steady your feet on the solid ground of His word and how He brought you here!
Be very careful to not think too highly of yourself.
Oh Satan loves to whisper to you how awesome you are. How you are changing these girls and building your kingdom so beautifully.
Did you notice it’s all about you in those thoughts?
Sure, you would never say those things aloud, and you probably would not even realize those were your thoughts unless someone pointed them out to you.
So remember this: girls will come to know the Lord through your labor, but it’s not about you. You do not make them grow. You do not lead them to Christ. They are not your disciples. You are all disciples of the one true King, who makes all people grow in His own discretion and timing.
“For it is neither he who plants, nor he who waters who is anything, But it is Christ who makes all things grow. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:7-9
You are His laborer, He does not need you, yet chooses to use you.
Remember your place with your eyes fixed on Him.
When you properly understand these things, you are not proud and boastful when one repents of her sinful flesh, and you are not downcast and dejected when one refuses the message you share.
Always remember it’s His Kingdom, not yours.
When you feel the twinge of pride, be quick to repent and share with a trusted sister who can help keep you in check.
I pray you will always know and remember you are laboring for Him and not yourself!
Be all in where you are.
I know in this season you are seeing many friends get married, maybe even starting families.
We as women are wired to desire the next and the next.
Whether it’s marriage, babies, new job, new friends, new whatever, we want what we don’t have.
You think you will follow God in this for a season, and then all your dreams will come true.
Be very careful, sister, not to make silent ultimatums with the Almighty.
It’s not bad to desire a husband or children or the next season of life but when that occupies your thoughts day after day you have an idol looming.
The silent negotiations I made with God during this season of my life were that I would follow him on staff, and He in turn would radically transform and heal my mother who had been battling cancer and long term illness the majority of my life.
Now, I would never have verbalized this, nor did I even really known that’s what I was doing at the time. But when those things did not happen, it sent a wave of emotion and depression I was overcome with and had no clue how to handle.
I say all that to say, search your heart.
What is your deepest longing?
Sometimes good things can get ever so twisted in our mind that we begin to idolize and worship them.
Have a pulse on those things in this season of life and entrust them to a close friend.
Make the most of your time.
Someday sister, if the Lord brings you to a season of motherhood, you will look back on this current time in your life and wonder how you even filled your days.
I know it’s probably an annoying thing you hear older woman say all the time, but it’s said because it’s true.
I remember being on staff and having some free time and binging on Netflix or movies like crazy. Just needing to turn my brain off for a little while.
All in all, it may help to keep your sanity, but it’s a fine line to laziness and developing a negative work ethic.
Now I’m not saying don’t relax and chill out when it’s time to chill out, but I know there will be expendable hours in your day when an appointment with a student will fall through or plans will change suddenly and you can choose to develop yourself in that time or waste that time.
Self development is crucial in this season of life.
It’s up to you to become the woman of God you want to be.
Of course, He is developing you (Philippians 1:6), but I am a firm believer in coming alongside the Holy Spirit and choosing ways to develop yourself for His name and glory.
Constantly be in a study of His Word.
Don’t let scripture memory fall by the wayside as a thing you did when you were a student.
Develop a reading plan of a certain number of books to read in your first year. Don’t just read it and put it down but take notes as you read and let it sink deeply.
It may not feel like it right now, but you have so much uninterrupted and distraction free time in this season. Be wise with how you use it!
My last piece of advice and my life motto:
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”
Remember, you are not alone.
He is always with you!