Who is Really the Transient Person?

 

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In the last several months, I have been in several good discussions with various people about the transient nature of college students. People have always asked me, “How can you minister to a lifestage, where after four years they leave and then, you have to start all over again?”

I guess I have always responded to this type of question with a positive perspective. Even though many people leave Ann Arbor after graduation, it is satisfying to know that they are scattered all over the world doing great things for God’s Kingdom. Also, since my personality and giftings are better suited for “training,” I get excited every September knowing that there is a whole new batch of people I get to influence and share the Gospel with.

But the more I thought about this, I realized that college students are not the most transient people, but rather it is the single adults. For a college student, there is a specific timeframe in which they are “permanent.” Whether it is four years or five years, I know with a certain level of confidence (barring academic probation) that students will be in Ann Arbor for that period of time.

The single adults on the other hand, can one day wake up and decide that they want to go to graduate school or decide that they want to move to a different city or decide to change their job. Simply put, they are not really rooted or committed to just one thing. Ah yes, the curse of having too many options.

If you go to the other end of the spectrum, you will notice that once people get married and have kids, they are usually too settled and comfortable that the thought of moving to another place is a big ordeal. They have to think about the kids’ schooling, job security, and the list goes on and on.

Therefore, the question, “Who is really the transient person?” needs to be re-examined.

As I have talked with different pastors, this is one of the major reasons why the single adult ministry is a difficult ministry. It is very fragile. You can pour resources (money, personnel, time, etc) into this stage of life, but usually many of the single adults do not stay long enough to experience deep transformation.

Now, of course there are always exceptions. But if we examine this life stage very carefully, we will have to humbly say that it is a lifestage that really centers around the pursuit of the self – the career, trying to find a marriageable partner, enjoying various gadgets that they could not purchase as a college student, entertainment systems that guarantees a heighten sensory experience, purchase of new wardrobe, a new vehicle, picking up expensive hobbies, pleasing the palate with exquisite delicacies at top restaurants, and hobnobbing with friends to exotic vacation spots. I might have missed a few things.

Are any of these things wrong? Of course not! But if they supersede our love for Christ and our passionate pursuit to live for His Kingdom, then we might have a problem. Maybe this is the reason why some of the single adults that I met have a sense of restlessness in them. Many do not have a clear purpose in their lives. They go from one thing to another – from one place to another.

Is it possible that the single adults in our generation have settled for the “lesser” things? Have they decided to go “with the flow” in society rather than “against it” when it comes to living for something greater?

Sometimes the wandering heart needs to find a home – a place where they are known in the context of biblical community. But this takes commitment. It takes a decision to stay.

Chris Tomlin’s song, “I Will Follow” has been a powerful anthem for our single adults. May this be the cry of our hearts:

Where you go, I’ll go
Where you stay, I’ll stay
When you move, I’ll move
I will follow…

All your ways are good
All your ways are sure
I will trust in you alone
Higher than my sight
High above my life
I will trust in you alone

Where you go, I’ll go
Where you stay, I’ll stay
When you move, I’ll move
I will follow you
Who you love, I’ll love
How you serve I’ll serve
If this life I lose, I will follow you
I will follow you

Light unto the world
Light unto my life
I will live for you alone
You’re the one I seek
Knowing I will find
All I need in you alone, in you alone

In you there’s life everlasting
In you there’s freedom for my soul
In you there joy, unending joy
and I will follow