Stan Crocker is a Resident Director at Patrick Henry College, a classical Christian liberal arts college in Purcellville, VA. He graduated from Patrick Henry College in May, 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in History. Stan grew up in New Hampshire and Connecticut, and he loves the outdoors, especially hiking and ultimate Frisbee.
Abiding, Not Sliding: The Experience of a Resident Director
John 15:4 reminds us, “Abide in Me and I in you…” The most successful Christian college experience will be one in which a busy student makes this a priority.
Patrick Henry College holds dear three key priorities. One is a dedication to excellence and high academic rigor. Another is to maintain fidelity to the spirit of the American founding by training students with knowledge of—and affection for—the principles of transcendent truth that established this great country. Here’s the third: Patrick Henry College seeks to be a school which encourages its students to live, study, and work in light of a biblical worldview. As such, Patrick Henry College hopes to see its students grow spiritually by delving into the Word and by making full use of the Christian communities surrounding the college.
But that’s a lot easier said than done in a challenging academic environment. Discretionary time is a luxury.
And even at a Christian college like Patrick Henry College, pragmatically growing in one’s Christian walk with God along with the academic struggles of a college student is difficult.
Students spend a significant amount of time in class, soaking up the wisdom of professors and hearing the witty comments of fellow students. Even more time is given tostudying for classes, tests, and papers. On top of that, students have daily chapel, meals, and friends. They may be actively involved in forensics, hobbies, or a part-time job. It is a very busy time in life. When all is said and done, time will have been spent, but not on all of the things that matter most.
Where does prayer fit in with that? How about time in God’s Word? Or church? Here are some lessons that I have learned while working as Patrick Henry College as a resident director for two years.
Students at Patrick Henry College Need To Care About Their Spiritual Development
During the first week of my second year as a Resident DirectorI received a message from one student saying that another student needed to speak with me. It sounded urgent. I wondered if the student was upset or hurting in some way. When I found him, however, it was not what I expected.
He had a simple question: “How do I make time for God during a busy semester?”
My heart melted. It was an insightful, sincere question. He recognized the busyness of Patrick Henry College and did not want to lose sight of his relationship with the Lord and its importance. I shared what little wisdom I had and prayed with him that day.
He wasn’t the only one.
A lot of students at Patrick Henry College sincerely try to make Christ a priority in the midst of college. They believe in excellence in the Christian life as well as excellence at the desk. They encourage other students to continue their walk with the Lord and to nurture it.
Find a Spiritual Community Such As Patrick Henry College
When I came to Patrick Henry College as a freshman in the Fall of 2013, I was already concerned about time management—and not particularly for the purposes of my spiritual life.
I thought to myself, “I’m going to be really busy, so I should only spend a little time each day in the Word.” But sadly with that mentality, I found myself spending less and less time with the Lord. I was also a member at a healthy church where my parents lived, so I decided not to become a member of a church in Virginia.
But that changed.
During my time at Patrick Henry College, I slowly began to turn from those practices. There’s a lot of different factors that went into it, but the community here played a large role.In part, this is a reason why the community at Patrick Henry College is so exceptional—it encourages students to grow outside of their comfort zone and grow personally. I started giving some of the most productive times of my day to prayer and Bible reading. I intentionally got more and more involved at church, seeking to minister to God’s people there and to be blessed by them. I cannot tell you how grateful I am that God stirred up my heart to these things.
I am also incredibly grateful to witness so many Patrick Henry College students come in already devoted to these things or (like me) become more so over their time at college.
I cannot count how many student-organized Bible studies have happened, but it is many. This past semester, it was encouraging to walk into breakfast every morning and see a group of guys faithfully studying the Word between 7:30 and 8. Behind the closed doors of dorm rooms as well, you will often find groups of students gathering to pray or study God’s Word with reverence.
Recently, I have also seen an increased desire among students to be deeply involved in a church in the area. This is really encouraging, as churches are uniquely positioned to minister to college students, and vice versa. Families and older believers can offer hospitality, wisdom, and support to the students, which blesses them in amazing ways. Students aid the elderly, watch children, or otherwise use the gifts God has given them to minister to the congregation.
Do Less And Accomplish More
There is no cookie-cutter approach to this. Some students spend time with the Lord early in the morning, some in the evenings, some in the afternoons, and some throughout the day. This is done individually and in groups;
So how doyou make time for God at PHC?
For some students at Patrick Henry College, making time for their spiritual wellbeing means cutting back on some of the nonessential commitments to commune with God and invest in others more. For all students, it means drawing near to God and making that top priority, no matter how busy life gets. After college, it could get even busier. Maybe it’s a high-pressure job, an increased social life, a spouse, or kids. Whatever it is, the busyness does not end at college, and the habits formed during college will sometimes last long afterward. When I see students drawing near to God now, spending hours in His presence, learning from His Word, and making His name known to others, I rejoice.
God is at work. Are you remaining in Him?
“As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4