Here below is a list of what I have found to be the most effective ways that I have learned while studying at Southwestern. I am taking for granted that I am writing specifically to Southwestern Students. In light of everything that I write to remember that all is for the glory of God and the advancement of his kingdom. There are other assumptions I am taking for granted here, but if you know me, you know my intentions are focused on Christ.
I wish to apply the most practical, definitive answers to your difficult questions. And simply throwing the blanket cliché saying, “All that I do is for the glory of God, and I am fully at the disposal of God’s will,” does not get you anywhere. Yes, the Christian man or woman is at the complete surrender of God’s will in his or her life. However, I am convinced that if that is your leading motto, you will die a thousand deaths long before your physical death because you never found out what God called you to.
My precious brothers and sister in Christ, God, has called you to serve him with excellence. It breaks my heart to tears knowing that the world is laughing at Christians because we act as though we don’t have the greatest message in the world to tell them. Do you know that you’re an ambassador of a King? Seriously. You are a citizen of a Kingdom that is far greater than the one you see around you. You work for one who is greater than President Obama. So, it is about time we started acting like it, and apart of that is deciding what you want to do.
1.) Decide what you want to do. Nothing will make your studying more enjoyable, more meaningful until you know exactly what you want to do in this life. You literally have the power to become anything you want in this life and your early twenties are vital in determining the existence of that future. If you want to join NASA and be apart of the International Space Station that orbits the earth at 17,150 miles per hour you can but you need to know what you want to do.
You need to sit down for at-least an hour everyday until you figure out the answer to the question: What do I want to do? The time you spend thinking about the answer to this question, you will make up in a lifetime of doing what makes you happy. Which is my second point, what you want to do will make you happy. Do what makes you genuinely happy. If that means your making 10,000 dollars a year, or 100,000 dollars a year, you need to pursue the interest that makes you happy.
If you know what you want to do it will make you happy. Pursue what makes you happy and every assignment you have, every 50 pages you have to read will make studying a breeze. What makes your blood boil, and fills you with adrenaline every time the subject is brought up? Pursue that subject, that idea, and you will go to your deathbed knowing with full contentment that you did what made you happy. If your at Southwestern as a college student you need to know that they want to prepare effective ministers to serve in the Church and home all across the world. If that is not generally what you want to do, than you need to find a different college. If Southwestern is a launch pad for further studies in a different field than I ask you the same question, why are you here?
To make studying easier and more exciting, you need to know why what your learning applies to your end goal. If you have no end goal, you will never understand why what your doing today will make a difference for you in the future.
2.) Say NO. Did you know that Christianity is fundamentally a life of saying “no?” We say, “no” to the ways of the world, and we die to our self to make Christ live magnificently through us. As Christians, we say “no” to our life, our pleasures and our desires but not to what we want to do-unless Christ has explicitly told you to give it up.
Why does saying “no” all of a sudden change when it comes to our studies? If you want to do what you want to do than you need to stop doing what everyone else wants you to do. Emphasis on everyone, stop doing what everyone wants you to do. The people at my Church have my complete devotion. I serve the people at my Church first, and secondly the community around our Church. My other friends, acquaintances, or co-workers will never have my complete devotion and focus. That is because for me to serve my people that God has given me to my maximal ability, I cannot, nor can you serve everyone you know. You treat the others like a person, you love them, and you help them, but draw the line somewhere. You cannot spread yourself thin, or you will get murdered. Right now, I have 538 friends on Facebook, you may have quadruple that number, and the sad fact is you cannot equally serve them all.
Even among the 12 disciples, Jesus had Peter, James, and John. Your desire to serve them all is a good and a godly desire, but that is why God has called us to make disciples. Than those disciples can invest into all those you know and love across the world.
So, stop going out every night to eat with your friends. The people that God has called you to serve demand your prayers and your complete service. Say no, to the desire to stop studying after two hours. Keep reading, keep learning, and keep going. Say no, to those who may think you are socially awkward because you choose not to spend the kind of time they expect you to spend with them.
To study effectively, you must die to your desires and your appetites. Dying to you is best lived out in a life of saying no. Learn this well, the people in Washington may not always grant us the wonderful privilege of religious freedom. When preaching the Gospel could put you in jail you need to know the power of this monosyllabic; two-letter word “no.”
3.) You need to work really really hard. The most profound truths in life are the ones usually right in front of us. You have heard this, and you are probably tired of hearing it. But you need to work hard.
When you get that feeling of, “I have earned this break,” or “I have read 20 pages, I’ll stop” or “I think I deserve a two-hour break.” You need to stop right there and continue to push through that desire. Get up, take a 15 minute timed break, and then get back to work. Learn to work hard in those moments you feel tired. Stop saying, “I feel to tired to read,” you will always be tired. The more you work in those times of complete exhaustion, the easier it will be to study in those times of tiredness and the easier it will be to retain the information you need to know.
There will be times when you feel good and you might read for two, or three hours straight but do not think that is the norm, or what the “higher ups” feel all the time. I got to work with a doctoral student for three weeks straight during Christmas. I didn’t even go home so that I could assist this student. We spent 10 hours on average, six days a week on his thesis. A few days we worked a total of 16 hours! That was long and tough work even for me, and I didn’t even write the thesis. I was doing grammar and translating work for a 190-page paper. We ate, drank, did lunch together and we went right back to work. I never felt my body pushed to that degree of commitment and devotion for a paper that I didn’t write. I did not want to do it, and there were multiple times when I wanted to give up, but I choose to ignore those appetites and continue through.
Also, stop letting your feelings govern the decisions you make in life. Just because you feel like it is a good idea, or that some event would be fun to go to stop and think. Control your feelings and make rational decisions based upon the work that you need to get done. God has given you a responsibility as a student. That is why you came to school; your friends are not paying for your school you are. Get what you are paying for by working every minute God has given you so that you can effectively serve those that God will give under you as a teacher, counselor, or preacher.
Other smaller helps and aids
1.) Earplugs I am of the belief that the best environment to study in is one that is completely silent. I use earplugs on a day-to-day basis. I need complete silence and so do you. I do not recommend listening to music for one important reason. Music distracts your mind from focusing on what you are learning. Lets be honest no one likes absolute silence. Not even me but control your mind to understand the subject. Take advantage of all that “scary, empty, silence,” and fill it with the subject your reading about.
Please do yourself a favor and try to get away from the music and use the earplugs. Control your mind and use 100% of it to focus on the subject your reading on. Do not be afraid to feel alone in the quiet, direct your complete attention towards the subject at hand and you will know it better than your classmates.
2.) RHOTO HYDRA EYE DROPS When your eyes get, tired, and a splash of water to the face doesn’t get the job done use eye drops. There is nothing bad about eye, drops and it helps moisten your dry and irritated eyes. I cannot tell you how many late nights when these little eye drops got me through that one reading assignment or that long night looking at a bright computer screen feeling like Superman in the study.
3.) Don’t sit in a wooden chair Studying takes a great exertion of energy and endurance. Nothing is more discouraging to me than studying in a wooden chair. You need to sit somewhere comfortable, a place, and chair where you can sit for two or three hours comfortably. Emphasis on endurance. You might not think about this, but the chair that you sit in is also important in your effectiveness to study for long hours. Find a comfy chair.
4.) Drink FLUIDS while studying You need to stay hydrated to study for longer periods of time. Do not go drinking so much that your getting up to go to the bathroom every 20 minutes, but get a Gatorade, a Powerade, and a water bottle every time you go to study. Believe it or not but you loose important electrolytes that you need to be replacing when you are studying. So think of studying like a basketball court. To perform well, you need to replenish your body with important surges, vitamins, and potassium.
5.) Blackstrap MOLASSES Black Strap Molasses (BSM) is an incredible super food and 100% completely natural to increase iron levels. BSM is extremely high in iron and iron creates red-oxygenated blood cells, which help you think clearly and be alert. When it comes to that midterm and final exam season, I will take one tablespoon of BSM every other day to stay alert and focused.
6.) EAT FRUIT AND VEGETABLES Especially during crunch time. Go to the store by ten apples, some bananas and a bag of clementine. You might as well pick up some orange juice as well for the morning. Mix it up with a bag of grapes. Nothing tastes better and makes you feel better during late nights of studying than eating fresh fruit. GOSH, IT IS SOO GOOD. I wish I had some right now.
CONCLUSION Here is another lame cliché you might not like, but it is very true. If you want to do what no one else is doing than you truly need to do what no else is doing. Look around you, look at your friends what is the single thing that distinguishes you from them? You might be surprised when it comes to studying not much separates you from them. In a world when we are crying out to be used uniquely by God we need to stop doing what all our friends are doing. Stop living their life, and live your own, be an adult for goodness sakes. Guess what I do every time I get back from Church on Sunday. I go directly to the study room to read. Why? Because no else is studying during those hours and that makes me more competitive in winning souls to Christ apart from the fact that it is solely by his work. Those extra few hours during Sunday and those other times I set aside make me a different kind of teacher and preacher. If you study when everyone else studies, and you read the same amount as everyone else, guess what, you are going to look and speak exactly like them. Charles Spurgeon was different because he did what no else would do, he read like no else would read, and he wrote more than anyone would write.
Remember God calls you to serve him with excellence. Dear Christian, be excellent in all that you do because you serve a real King, the whole crown, robe, horse and all who is excellent, beautiful, and worth every second of your complete devotion and sacrifice.
I love all of you at Southwestern I wish you the best and God bless.