College is a time of discovery. We are (mostly) on our own and able to make our own decisions for the first time in our lives. We can discover what we enjoy, what we believe, and who we want to be. College is a unique experience because it is the first time we start to take sole ownership and control over how we want to be defined. What type of person do we want to be? What type of student? What type of friend?
Christine M. Riordan, Ph.D. of the Huffington Post speaks on this in her article, “College is a Time to Define Yourself Through Action.”
College offers an environment designed for self-discovery, but you’ll be expected to define yourself through action.
Christine M. Riordan, Ph.D., Huffington Post
She goes on to explain that it is not enough to simply say we are a student or a friend, we must actively make efforts to be those things. Especially in our world today, we as college students cannot settle for simply saying we want to make a difference; we must show it in our actions, and it is these actions that define our identity and future.
For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.
1 Corinthians 4:20 NLT
It is easy to “talk the talk.” I’ve definitely had my fair share of papers where I may not have read or understood the material, but I knew what to say to get the professor to think that I did. Though this may work in your General Ed English class, it doesn’t go over as well in real life. I may talk a good game, saying that I want to help people, do something big with my life, or make a difference in the world, but if I don’t do anything those words have no power. I end up “faking it till I make it,” always trying to make it seem like I am someone I’m not, and so never really getting to spend time figuring out who I actually am.
O Eternal One, You have explored my heart and know exactly who I am;  You even know the small details like when I take a seat and when I stand up again. Even when I am far away, You know what I’m thinking.  It is the most amazing feeling to know how deeply You know me, inside and out; the realization of it is so great that I cannot comprehend it.
Psalm 139:1-2,6 Voice
God knows who we really are, and wants to help us understand ourselves as well. He knows even the smallest details of our hearts, so we don’t have to pretend with him or act like we have it all together. We can be our genuine selves without fear of rejection, because he already knows us. The more we spend time with him, the more we can discover who we are and who we’re meant to be.
“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:14 MSG
By deciding to be transparent and open about who we really are with our friends, it prompts them to open up to God and others themselves. We are actually living what we say, and this inspires others to do the same.
Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.
James 1:26 MSG
Once we stop pretending and talking a good game, we are freed up to do the work that really matters. God wants to help us be the kind of people on our campuses and in our communities who reach out to those who need help, who speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves, and who make a real difference in the world. With his help, we can make an impact that is so much bigger than ourselves.
How will you define yourself on your campus? Are you trying to fake it, or are you showing God and people the real you? What can you do today to make a difference in the lives of the people around you?
To learn more about how to live a life bigger than yourself, register for our upcoming Campus Retreat this weekend, “Bigger than Me,” on October 13-14!