(This is part of a talk I gave at North Texas XA Student Leadership Advance.)
It’s that time of year. Students are studying on the Quad. Frisbees are being thrown again. Graduating seniors are in a frenzy of final assignments and job interviews. Another college semester is steam-rolling towards Commencement. As campus pastors, our responsibility to a graduating senior is so much more than simply celebrating their time at college. If our ultimate goal is to IMPACT the Marketplace and the World, now is the time to make sure our seniors have a game plan ready for the transition ahead.
Reconcile – The first step to making a positive “Hello” to a new season of life is to reconcile the last season. As your senior looks forward to what is next, be sure to help him or her process their time at college. Look at all four years as a whole. What experiences did the student have that helped to shape the person they are today? Talk about and celebrate benchmark moments. What truths did they learn? What skills were developed? What are they taking into their future? Also, talk about things that didn’t happen. Help them make peace with situations or relationships that left a negative mark on their college experience.
Affirm – Once reconciliation has happened, take time to affirm good things you see in the life of your student. Also empower them to affirm good things they see in themselves. This is your moment for celebration!!
Use Kent Humphreys’ “13 Questions Young Adults Need to Answer Before They Turn 30” to help your student reconcile and affirm their Christian self- and world-view.
- “Do I have a firm grasp on the basic doctrines of the Christian faith?”
- “Do I know how to walk in the fullness of the Holy Spirit?”
- “Do I know how to restore my soul when I am spiritually depleted?”
- “Do I know what it is to be a maturing man/woman?”
- “Do I have a clear life mission, and do I know how to use it to navigate life choices?”
- “Am I ready to enter and develop a flourishing marriage relationship?”
- “What does it mean to be financially free?”
- “Do I know how to hold down a job and help an employer be successful?”
- “Do I know how to honor my parents now that I am on my own?”
- “Do I know how to manage time in order to accomplish goals?”
- “Am I honest about my secret sins/weaknesses?”
- “Do I know how to develop relationships in my world which attract people to follow Christ?”
- “Do I know how to benefit others in the body of Christ by serving and using my spiritual gift(s)?”
Your senior may not be able to fully answer some of these questions until their late 20’s, but you can help your student reconcile and affirm many of them now.
Farewell – Many of us already do a pretty good job when it comes to honoring our graduates. Some groups have big parties, whiles others have thoughtful ceremonies. Whatever you decide to do, be sure to have a definite moment in time where you and your group say goodbye to the college kid who once was. Even if your student plans to stick around after college, his or her role in your Chi Alpha group needs to be different. It is not healthy to stay a college student forever. If your student has positively reconciled and affirmed his or her season of university life, this farewell moment will help them make a healthy move from “kid” to “adult.”
Think Destination – It will be important for your student to think about, prepare for, and share with others about what lies ahead. After your student has reconciled their identity in Christ and what they have learned and now believe about their purpose in His Kingdom, help your student answer the following questions about their future:
- Where is the Right Place for me to live out my identity and purpose?
- What is the Best Job for me to finance my purpose?
- What Church will empower me in my next season of growth?
- What Friends will encourage me?
- What Mentor(s) will challenge me?
- What other Life Passions can be developed and utilized?
(This step may take some reconciliation and affirmation of it’s own.)
Don’t let your student Think about his or her Destination without first Reconciling their past. Baggage must be released so they can walk with freedom into their future. Affirmation will empower them to draw from skills they have learned when future challenges arise. Farewell will celebrate all that God has done in their past while creating anticipation for their future. Don’t just celebrate their time spent with you. Prepare them for the life that awaits after college!
Thanks to my friend, Bethanie Skipper, for allowing me to adapt the Transition Model she uses to prepare missionary kids for the field and/or college.
Suggested Resource: Christ@Work In Your Transition: From the Campus to the Workplace, by Kent Humphreys