College women are a breed of their own from the academic, to the athlete, sorority girl, hipster, preppy, loner, atheist, Christian, sexually active, sexually uneducated, socially awkward, super confident, boy crazy, and every other label we can come up with.
No matter how different these women are outwardly they are all looking for a few of the same basic things. In twelve years of college ministry I have seen that our ladies on state schools, private schools, big schools, and small schools desire relationships with older women, honest conversations, and someone to call them to a better way of living.
As Christians those three things are translated to mentors, Bible-centered conversations, and someone to point and push them toward holiness.
In my words a mentor is someone who speaks truth and life into someone else’s life on a regular basis. While mentoring can be a formal time to sit down and study scripture it can also be trips to the grocery store or conversations at the beach. As long as intentional conversations that are life-giving take place mentoring is happening.
One of the questions asked regularly on my campus is, “How do I find a mentor?” I remember this being a daunting task for myself in college. As leaders and older women we need to find ways to be available for the college girls and to be approachable. Maybe it’s asking a few girls to lunch so you get to know them or hosting a girl’s small group. Find what works best in your world to connect and be available. Now, I’m not telling you that your world needs to be meeting with college ladies every day, you have to find the balance that works for you and the other responsibilities you have. However, even mentoring one girl or having lunch each week after church with a few allows you to meet their need.
Our college women are desperate for the Bible and half of them don’t know it. They are seeking truth, a standard in their lives, a way to sort through the grey areas, all of which is found in the Bible. How rich could our conversations and mentoring be if we were pouring over the Word of God and pursing holiness in a way that it just overflowed to those around us? If I’m honest there are seasons where this happens and seasons where it doesn’t.
This summer a few of the girls I have mentored over the last year are serving on the mission field. When I send a text asking how they are or how I can be praying occasionally I will get a response within the hour. When I send a text with a scripture passage, a verse that made me think of them, or something to challenge them where they are I get an immediate response. They are craving not only mentors but mentors and adults who will speak the Word of God into their lives.
I had a precious girl who kept coming to talk and we talked about the same issues time and time again. One day as she left I said in complete sarcasm, “Just spend some time with Jesus!” A week later she came up to me in the hall and said, “I did what you told me to. I spent time with Jesus and reading my Bible and it all makes sense now.” REALLY??? When I came to my wits end and was sarcastic the Lord used my words to get her in scripture. That’s what she needed and I wish I had pointed her there sooner than I did.
Mentoring and Bible-centered conversations both move us toward the idea of pushing and pointing our college ladies toward holiness. In a world full of grey areas our women need a standard and they have a desire to be pointed to it. The standard is found in Christ and in the Word of God, however, too often they know the right answer or response in their hearts but they don’t take action. That’s where we come in to not only speak life, wisdom, and truth into their lives but we also ask the questions that point them to holy living.
Recently I had a freshman who applied to be a leader and from everything I knew she would be great. Then on a road a trip I was told that she was reading Fifty Shades of Grey and loving it, talking about it, and flaunting it. (We can have discussion about this book later but let’s agree that we don’t need leaders who are getting lost in this type of fantasy world.) After multiple students tried to talk to her about the book, she and I went to have coffee. There were tears from both of us but once she saw the reality of the Truth and Scripture juxtaposed with the ideas of the book she was broken. Once the standard of scripture was seen and the sin issue exposed she wanted to pursue Christ and holiness. In a world full of grey areas she honestly hadn’t seen why this book would cause an issue for anyone.
Our college ladies are begging for someone to lovingly call them out and to be the cheerleader as they pursue holy living.
So, ministry to college women boils down to two words: messy relationships. If we are willing to truly walk life with them from a missional standpoint we have to be willing to get in the nastiness of life, deal with the difficult issues, and lovingly call them to a higher standard of living. You and I (as the “adults”) will never be perfect and they need to see that but we do need to be pursing the Lord as we take on these relationships. The messy part comes when we walk with them through depression, eating disorders, relationships, rape, pornography addictions, learning to lead, academic perfection, athletic injuries, and so many other aspects. That’s when life gets difficult and we have the amazing opportunities to walk with these women through the most difficult things they can imagine while mentoring, having Bible-centered conversations, and pushing them toward holiness.
Here are a few of the topics our college women have been asking about in the last year that we are trying to tackle in creative ways. If you have thoughts, ideas, or questions please let us know so we can chat about them!
- Girl Conflict
- Where to get pregnancy test in a safe place and who to tell
- The Hook-Up culture
- Girl/guy friendships
- Alcohol safety
- Bystander intervention
- Homosexuality (tendencies and reactions)
- Porn addiction
- How to have a quiet time
- How to study the Bible
- Finding a church
- Friendship break-ups
Guest Blogger Beth Masters, PhD is Director of Christian Life and Ministries at Mississippi College and Adjunct College Ministry Professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.