College. Either the best or worst years of your life. You’re still your mom’s baby, but you’re also free to make any and all decisions by yourself. Our friends in college can influence these decisions by steering us toward God, or completely against Him. You don’t have your parents around telling you who they feel are good friends or bad friends. You’re left to decipher that all on your own. So, what do you do when you realize your friends in college are starting to negatively influence your walk with Christ?
It can be so hard to watch friends you love turn away from God. It can be even harder not to cling to that friend out of the fear of losing them, and end up wrapped up in the same lifestyle as them. It’s important to look at your situation and ask yourself: Are these actions in line with my faith? Where should I set boundaries as far as what I will or won’t participate in with them? You have the power to make your own decisions. You can decide who you’ll allow yourself to be influenced by. And you can choose to surround yourself with Christlike people. At the end of the day, your relationship with Jesus trumps any relationship you have with your friends, so if a friend is pressuring you or making you feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to take a step back from them.
And I can hear you now. “I’m strong enough to stand up for what I believe is right. I don’t need to be friends with other Christians to do that.” And you may be right! Up to a point. But, we often underestimate how strong the human desire to fit in with the crowd is. We just start blending with our friends in ways we might not even be fully conscious of. The Bible puts it like this: Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble. Proverbs 13:20 NLT
We’ve got to be honest with ourselves. When we’re in such a big, transitional life stage, we need good influences and mentors in our life. College is a place that can change your walk with Christ. Remember: it’s okay to be friends with people who aren’t as strong in their faith as you, but it’s important that you have close friends in your life who help you live out your faith and steer you in the right direction. Here are some ways you can find people who will hold you accountable and encourage your walk with Christ while you’re in college.
- Find community at your church. Try serving or going to church events where you can find a community of people who want to lead you toward Jesus. Bring your college friends with you. You might be surprised at how easy it is to make true, lasting friendships through attending and serving in church together. These people can be some of your best friends for the rest of your life.
- Join a Christian organization. There are clubs or organizations for believers on most college campuses. Don’t be afraid to join one of these organizations and find people who will support you. It’s also a great way to meet students from all walks of life, who have taken a big step in their faith just like you. If you can’t find one you’re comfortable with on your campus, ask your local church how you can help their mission partners.
- Join or start a Bible study or a LifeGroup. This is an amazing way to connect with other college students and find people who will help you develop your relationship with God. It’s also a great way to be held accountable, to take a moment to stop studying, and focus your attention on God. It’s so important to put God first in your life, especially during college, and joining a LifeGroup is a great way to do that.
I’ll say this one again: It’s okay if you need to let go of some friendships. Start fresh, today. You can change your perspective when pursuing friendships. You can find that spiritual mentor you’ve been praying for. You can change the way you pursue Jesus. Jim Rohn said you are the average of your five closest friends. My pastor, Craig Groeschel, likes to quote the phrase, “Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.” Yup. Friends are important. Make sure your close friends represent Jesus, and live the life you’re called to live with them.