Aug 28: Get it together
I walked into Dr. Coyle’s office with the saddest look on my face. I wasn’t really sad; I just hoped she would have a little more mercy on me. I was two weeks late on my English paper and she had already given me an extension that I missed. This was going to be my second missed paper. If she didn’t give me a little more time, I was not going to pass this class. I wasn’t ready for that, so I decided to use my theatre background to get just a few more days.
Dr. Coyle, looking directly into my eyes, challenged me: “Derrick, you’ve got to get it together!” She saw straight through my act and gave very little pity for not making good use of the time I had been given. She gave me two more days. And I thought I would leave the office relieved, but I actually walked out feeling quite disappointed in myself. I don’t know how she did it, but somehow office hours turned into a ‘come to Jesus meeting’. I felt convicted, and Dr. Coyle didn’t even use Jesus’ name.
Looking back, I realized that Jesus used this moment to convict me of the sin of unfaithfulness. I was reminded of the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25. The servant who had been given one talent, out of laziness and fear, wasn’t faithful with what they were given and experienced dire consequences as a result. Though I wouldn’t have said it this way then, I left Dr. Coyle’s office feeling like the unfaithful servant. This wasn’t simply about a missed assignment. It was about my witness on campus.
All of these years later, I reflect on moments when my witness was compromised because I was an unfaithful student. I didn’t see the connection between boldly sharing my faith in philosophy class and leaving people hanging when I failed every single exam because I had not studied. We do a disservice to the movement of Jesus when we forget that how we engage our time on campus, through attending class, staying organized, and getting the best grades possible speaks just as loudly about our faith in Jesus.
When we get to the end of our undergraduate season, I think these words from the Talents Parable are what we want to hear:
“Well done, good and faithful student. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.”
-Matthew 25:23 (Derrick’s Interpretation)
If we want to be called ‘faithful’, we’ll have to view every report, book assignment, and exam less like an inconvenience and more like a chance to show our friends and teachers how great our God is. Your time on campus is a chance for you to expand your witness by being the best student you can be for the sake of Jesus. Maybe this devotional can be your ‘come to Jesus’ meeting. If you’re willing, you can pray this prayer below:
Beautiful God, thank you for the chance to be in college. I know this is a privilege not afforded to many on earth. Too often, I take this opportunity for granted. Holy Spirit, I ask you to convict me of the sin of unfaithfulness. Show me where I am being lazy when it comes to my work. Inspire me to take my classes seriously and open my eyes to the ways you can use my faithfulness as a witness to my friends & teachers. This is my prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.