A few days ago, a young friend of mine who also happens to be a reader of the blog asked me if I could write a little post where I would share, as a university students, a few tips on studying and faith. I felt the question was oriented toward how to obtain a balance between the two, in other words, how to make room for God and His word throughout the day. Far from knowing everything, I just wanted to share a few tips that helped me during the last few years; and, to be honest, writing them down also prepares me for the upcoming exams- it is good to have a reminder every once in a while .Oh, and speaking about exams, this post is timely because it will be the last one this month ! I am starting to revise for my exams of January and therefore, part of my discipline as a student is that I get rid of what could distract me.
So here are a few things I found useful during my studies:
- I learned that starting the day with God and ending the day with God is the best “frame” for the day. Charles Spurgeon once said “It is a good rule never to look into the face of a man in the morning till you have looked into the face of God”; a brother was once preaching about something and mentionned that Christ got up early to pray: “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” (Mark 1:35). Just as we eat in the morning, it is good and necessary to feed our souls. To spend time with the Lord. I won’t list all the reasons why but one of them is that 1) As someone said, He is the Maker of time, and there is always a way to make time for Him 2) His words are full of wisdom and you will need them throughout the day. Trust me. Sometimes I will read a short passage of the Bible, or I will read the “text” of the day in a devotional (I have a few: during my first year of University, I used to read Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest; now I have a devotional by C.H Spurgeon). This morning, I read a few verses of 1 Timothy. Something I really love is the book of Proverbs, too ! It is jam-packed with wisdom for the day. You just can’t imagine how being influenced by the Word and obeying it dramatically changes your discipline for the best.
- Time is not ours. We ought to be good stewards of the time that was given to us. “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men” (Colossians 3:23). I constantly have to ask myself, “Was this hour of work done heartily for the Lord ? Or was I complaining all the time ? Checking Facebook ? Wasting my time ?” When we work for the Lord, being grateful for the means and abilities the Lord gave us and using them the best we can, it changes a lot of things. We won’t try to stick to the bare minimum. So often we are discouraged because no one sees our work, or because no one acknowledge it. We feel lonely… but our Master sees it ! “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
- Working joyfully makes everything easier. Sure studies are not always easy, but try to make it more pleasant ! It will help you see it less than a chore, and more like a challenge. One of the thing I like to do is to light a candle on my desk; get myself a hot drink and the rule is that I should never leave the candle unattended (since it’s not safe !) and that the drink should continually be hot as to study for extended periods of time, and to go take a break just for getting another beverage or to take a short break. This way, the candle prevents me from leaving the room ! Make your desk a pleasant place, even your favorite place in the whole house !
- In order to avoid the temptation of going on the internet, print, if possible, everything you will need beforehand. That’s what I’ll do this winter. I’ll print all my infectiology and hematology documents instead of constantly opening my computer ! If you really need Word or Open Office, give yourself a limited period of time to type your document and only use your computer for researches purpose, because…
- If you really need to take a break, avoid social media and internet at all costs ! Well, now this is my opinion but I think that most of the time, I think a profitable break is a 15 minutes cardio session, or, in my case, a 8-15 minutes Ballet Beautiful Workout; or a 20 minutes cleanup, or a 10 minutes little DIY just to relax. Physical Exercice will help your brain release endorphins, which will leave you energized and those little molecules are also a good antidepressant ! I also find Facebook a distraction, but also a bad place to go to during exam study sessions for a good reason: When I open facebook there are always people who will try to talk to you about how bad things are going for them with that lecture, that they just want to give up, and often, that leaves you depressed. Clearly. So I always make sure to let people know that I will not be available on FB and on text messages during this period of the year because I need to focus on my goal.
- Discipline has a price but it pays: look at ants. Look at bees. How organized and hardworking they are, and how their work pays.
- Stick to a schedule as to see the progress of your work: that helps when it comes to motivation to cross an item off the list.
- Michael Jordan. Yes, Michael Jordan. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” (1 Cor 9:24-25) Sometimes, when my motivation was low, I would open Youtube and watch Michael Jordan interviews. To see that an athlete like him, a legend of basketball, was not accepted in his highschool basketball team when he was younger, but worked so hard that he finally managed to be the Prince of the NBA had a big impact on me. Of course there will be a need for self-control. Of course. But at the end, you will never regret it. It will teach you so many things.
It’s time for me to leave now ! I am going to make myself a good cup- I mean mug of tea, light a candle, stay in my room and study that dermatology lecture !
Have a blessed month of December, y’all ! Hope to be back at the keyboard at the end of January !