College graduation is a huge milestone. For most people, it marks the transition into adulthood. You’re now responsible to find a job, pay the bills, figure out a career path, and plot a course for the rest of your life.

For Christian students, I think it’s an especially critical moment. Will you set your priorities based on God’s values or the world’s values? Will you approach money, relationships, work, and the spiritual life in a way that honors Jesus? Too many graduates find themselves wandering around aimlessly. After ten or twenty years, many look back and are forced to admit that their life choices don’t really match the priorities they say they have.

For those of you graduating this month, here are a few steps to help you start your post-college life well: 

1. Determine your priorities. What’s important to you? Do you want to invest your life in sharing the Gospel? In knowing Jesus well? If you’re married, do you want your family to reflect God’s values? Most people fail to live meaningfully because they fail to consider their priorities. Decide now what matters to you — who do you want to be and what do you intend to invest your life in? Once you know what matters, begin arranging your time and energy around those priorities.

2. Find a church quickly. You cannot walk with the Lord in isolation. We all need encouragement and support, and too often I see college graduates hop from church to church for years without really connecting with one. You won’t find a perfect church, and you might not find one as “good” as the one you attended in college. That’s alright. Just find a place where they preach the gospel, believe the Word of God, and provide opportunities for you to serve and to grow. Find one within 2-3 months of graduation, and commit to it. If church doesn’t quickly become a part of your routine, it will become more and more difficult to fit it into your schedule.

3. Be careful with your money. Some of you will be on a very tight budget, while others will have more money than they’ve ever seen before. Either way, live below your means. Don’t try to match your parents’ lifestyle with your first house or car. Leave some room to save, and more importantly, to give. If you are married and both of you work, live on one salary if possible. Doing so will allow you flexibility if and when you have children. If you are single, live cheap and set aside as much money as you can. Don’t allow money to become a barrier to following God wherever He leads you.

4. Be careful with your time. Time is a more valuable resource than money. You can always make more money, but you can never make more time. Spend your limited free time engaged in meaningful activities. It’s quite easy to fall into a pattern of simply surfing Facebook or watching television with every spare moment. Don’t waste your time away. Use your evenings and weekends to serve others, participate at your church, spend time with other people, read, learn, and grow in your walk with the Lord. Use your 20s well.

5. Invest in other people for God’s glory. In the final analysis, your life will be evaluated by your impact on other people. Will you take the time to love others, to tell them about Jesus, and to help them know Him better? Will you leave a legacy of love and faithfulness to Jesus, at home and at work and at church and in your community? People matter because people will last forever. You have a limited window of opportunity to influence others for eternity.

If you just graduated, congratulations! I hope and pray that your life will be effective and purposeful, that you will reflect God’s values and know Him more and more each day. Hopefully the ideas above will give you a good start.

If you are a recent graduate, what other advice would you give to those starting their post-college life? 

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