when the circus comes calling

It’s doubtful that your students will get recruited by a traveling circus.

But they – and especially your top leaders – are likely to get pulled into other commitments just as entangling. Studying abroad, a campus leadership post, a summer internship, maybe a year-round ministry role at a local church. Even just a commitment that pulls them from their college ministry community, because of the night it falls on or the work it requires.

Obviously, any of these could be really positive adventures, and exactly what the Lord would have those students do. But the vital thing is that students are prepared beforehand so they know how to process such decisions when the time comes.

I remember I once had a student leader who got whisked away after his first semester when an internship opportunity opened up. He struggled with the decision because of various factors… but not one of those factors was the issue of his prior leadership commitment. It’s not that I wouldn’t have released him from that commitment; it’s that he didn’t even imagine that his previously made commitment might impact his decision. In other words, he wasn’t prepared for the moment of decision.

It’s not just the issue of commitment that is my point here. There’s lots of biblical wisdom (alongside some biblical commands) that should be weighed in decisions like these – do your students know those? Would they ponder prior commitments? Will they weigh their decisions with the community closest to them (like their small group)? Will they seek out people not because they’ll tell them what they want to hear, but because they’ll shoot straight? Will they pray… and then wait for clarity, even if it means deadlines pass?

And so on.

When the circus comes calling, you won’t easily have the chance to shepherd decision-making – the elephants and sideshows will beckon very loudly and tug the emotions as powerfully as a strongman. In a world full of “big opportunities” like these, hopefully Christian college students are learning how to discern their callings – before the circus rolls through.

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