On my first day of college, I knew almost no one.
I was over 500 miles from my family and my high school friends. I had limited “long distance” minutes on my cell phone, and I had less than one-hundred texts a month. (Believe it or not, this was only a decade ago.) I wanted deeper friendships with the guys who lived in my hall, but I was afraid to open up with anyone about my life. I was geographically and emotionally isolated. I was living in the dorm, but in my head I was still living back home.
It was a hard first year.
Then, during the summer between my freshman and sophomore year, mopping floors in the elementary school in my hometown, I made a decision. I’m going to do whatever it takes to make deep friendships this year. I was tired of living in isolation, and I was ready for community.
When I moved back into the dorm, I started having real conversations. First, with Chris. Then, Cody. Later, with Jake. I told them about the parts of my life I had kept hidden from them my first year. They did the same. We began sharing the same morning rhythm together: waking up at 6 am, reading our Bibles, splitting up for prayer, and coming back together for breakfast. One time we rode old Schwinn bicycles 500-hundred miles to my hometown. Another time we bought an old van for $1,300 and drove it all the way to Oregon (and back). They helped me confirm that I was called to be a pastor.
That community changed my life.
We learn in the very first pages of the Bible that we were not created to live alone. College, especially life in a dorm, is one of the most powerful experiences of community you will ever have. It’s a rare season in your life where you can share a wall with some of your closest friends, you can stay up late talking about whatever you want, and you can challenge one another to live into God’s dream for your life. College is as much about what happens in your dorm room as what happens in the classroom.
That’s why, on my last day of college, it was hard to leave. I was no longer the isolated freshman who showed up on day one. I had friends who would walk with me through the ups and downs of ministry for the rest of my life.
Milligan’s Ministry Leadership Program works to facilitate community among ministry majors. Your challenge is to take full advantage of the opportunities you are given. Don’t wait until your second year. Decide right away that you are going to do whatever it takes to make deep friendships at Milligan.
Austin Gohn serves as a ministry coach for Milligan’s MLP Program, where he mentors and teaches current ministry students. He is the Young Adults Minister at Bellevue Christian Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and has a M.Div. from Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. After writing for several blogs and publications, Austin recently released a book entitled, A Restless Age: How Saint Augustine Helps You Make Sense of Your Twenties. He is married to Julie and they have a son named, Levi. You can learn more about Austin here.