Written by Ethan Comer '23

Growing spiritually, for me, has become a mantra. I grew up with a drug problem. But not THAT kind; my drug problem was that my parents drug me to church all the time, where I was told I needed to “become a Christian” and “grow spiritually.”  As a kid, I had no idea what either of those meant.  As a college senior, I’ve learned what it means to be a Christian, and I’m continually working on my spiritual growth.

How does someone grow spiritually? For me, it takes three things:

  • Seeking Out Community
  • Seeking Out Mentors
  • Seeking to Meet Your Goals

Seeking Out Community

As a transfer student, I got a fresh start on making friends. Being a junior on a new campus felt like I was repeating freshman year all over again socially, but seeking out others who shared the same beliefs as me allowed me to find mentorship and helped me grow spiritually. For my first month on campus, I was miserable, which was my fault. I only went from my dorm to class, then to chick-fil-a, and back to my dorm.  It was no kind of life. I remember telling my mom that I wished I had gone to a different college. She encouraged me to find like-minded people – to, in essence, find my community. Being at a Christian based university, there are a great number of students here who are Christians, which is where I fall when it comes to spiritual beliefs. Once I got out of my shell more and started to talk to people in my classes, I began to connect with all kinds of other students who share the same beliefs as I do, as well as those who have different beliefs. I got a core group of Christian friends I could talk to, and it made a huge difference.

Seeking Out Mentors

After intentionally seeking out a strong spiritual community on campus, I knew I needed to find a church to attend. I was lucky and found not only a great church but also a small group of people who share my spiritual beliefs and who meet together regularly. By joining the church and small group, I began to be poured into by people all around me, and I try to pour into them, which is how church should be. My church family mentors me all the time, sometimes just by their life’s example.

Being intentional to invest time in a group of fellow believers impacted my life in a great way, but it took pushing through a little discomfort at first. I have learned that when you are comfortable you will remain right where you are, but you cannot grow unless you get uncomfortable. Throughout my junior and senior years, I chose to get more uncomfortable. I sought out mentors to meet with, people who I could ask questions to and share my life’s highs and lows with. Meeting with a mentor is something you can do weekly or really anytime, depending on your schedule. I personally get lunch with three different mentors – one on Mondays, another on Tuesdays, and another on Thursdays. Having someone pour into you spiritually and challenge you with important spiritual questions is a great way to grow and keep you accountable to your goals.

Seeking to Meet Your Goals

Through community and meeting with mentors, I have a great support system which allows for growth and grace. I heard a story about a student who was into smoking marijuana, and he asked a pastor one time, “Do I have to quit smoking to become a Christian?” To the student’s question the pastor replied, “No, you do not.” This confused the student. He didn’t expect that. When the student said he didn’t understand, the pastor’s reply was, “That’s right, you do not understand. You do not clean yourself up and then take a shower, do you? It is the same with Jesus and becoming a follower of Him. You don’t try to clean up your life and become a better person in order to be with Jesus. You just be with Jesus, and you follow Him, and if anything needs to be cleaned up, then you two will work that out together.” This principle really stuck with me. It is a great truth to remind yourself of each and every day: You don’t have to clean yourself up first, then get a spiritual life. Your spiritual life should be what’s helping you clean up.

Through seeking community, meeting with mentors, and setting goals, your spiritual life will flourish. When your heart is truly invested in God and the people around you, you will absolutely experience spiritual growth, even during the busyness of college. I know mine has.