Life as a student is pretty tough, especially during crunch time with a seemingly never-ending pile of notes to revise and assignments to complete.
With so much already on your plate, it can be a real struggle to juggle ministry responsibilities in addition to school commitments.
We spoke to undergraduates Zanna Ker (21), Chow Yean Li (22), Zachary Lee (22) and Glenda Chia (23) who’ve been there and done that.
They shared some tips from their experiences, which made it possible for them to balance both serving and studying.
Hopefully, these examples will encourage you to be faithful in your walk with Him!
1. Prioritise the things that matter
Zanna: The year I sat for A-Levels was also my first year as a cell leader. It seemed like I was faced with a choice of my own future or making an impact on other people’s lives.
I wrestled with God, but God showed me that if I sought His kingdom first, He would take care of my future (Matthew 6:33).
As the year progressed, I (sometimes unwillingly) sacrificed fun outings for studying, game time for revising, and Instagram for the Word of God.
But I never cut down on Quiet Time or leading cell.
Gradually, God increased my faith, and I even participated in an evangelistic rally during my prelims.
That left me with very little time to study, so I was astounded when He blessed me with the best results I’d ever received that year.
God came through for me during my A-Levels too!
Yean Li: One advice I have would be to place God first and He will do the rest.
At that time, I was serving as a pianist in the Sunday School and as an audio-visual team member for Sunday worship about twice a month.
There were times nearing the A-Level period when I felt a little stretched, but I was not conflicted. God who was the one sustaining me to be faithful in the areas that He had already called me to serve in.
Spending alone time with God also reminded me of Him being in full control.
That encouraged me greatly as I saw how He provided people to help me with my studies, and even the perseverance to continue trusting in Him when things felt so bleak.
I would usually arrive in school about half an hour before morning assembly.
During that time, I would hide myself away to meditate on one or two verses from the Bible, write down hymn lyrics that resonate with the theme for the day, and think about what I am grateful for.
If there was not much time, the bare minimum would be remembering who God is and committing the rest of my day to Him.
2. Know when you need to make adjustments
Glenda: When I felt at my wits’ end, I reminded myself of His presence in my life. This verse from His Word (Isaiah 49:16) gave me strength to push on.
Even when bad results came or when my heart grew weary of serving, He reminded me that He is my friend and that in this tumultuous journey, I am not alone.
So, I kept showing up and being present both in school and church.
But when some days took a toll, I had to be truthful to myself and take a step back to reprioritise what was important.
Sometimes that entailed passing on fellowships or not jumping into more things to serve.
Zanna: I remember being stressed one Sunday after youth service.
When my mother advised me to cut down on church commitments in light of my upcoming A-Levels, I grew even more stressed and almost broke down.
It led to a heart-to-heart talk with my mum, where she lovingly shared with me that cutting down on ministry commitments didn’t mean I’m not prioritising God.
I could still put God first through my daily devotions and attending youth, and honour Him with my attitude towards my studies.
It was wise advice I’m glad I heeded. I continued to lead cell and attend youth, but sacrificed fellowshipping over dinner or board games.
I also didn’t join the leaders for a retreat that year. Instead, I focused on studying and reading the Bible to keep myself rooted in Him.
Every day, I arranged school tasks in order of importance and gave a rough estimate for each task.
I also decided to attend to ministry responsibilities on two weekday nights, and on Sunday mornings and afternoons.
These clear boundaries helped me to manage my time well.
I would say the most important thing is to have faith in God. Setting priorities shouldn’t stem from a place of anxiety but from a place of security because we know our God is greater than any exam.
No matter how much you prioritise, it is God who holds your future in His good hands. Ask Him for strength, wisdom and fruitfulness because we can’t do it on our own!
3. Serving can also be refreshing
Zachary: When A-Levels were coming up, I had to make some decisions about whether to continue serving in the worship team two weekends a month.
I made sure to review my limits and decided to continue because I knew that if I worked a bit harder on the weekdays, I could cover the work for the weekend.
God saw me through my A-Levels, and I made it into the course of my choice in university.
It was similar when I went to the Army. I not only survived but also enjoyed myself and performed very well in the Army.
My cell mates always asked me: “Why do you look so happy every weekend even though you go through tough training in the Army?”
I would always tell them it’s because I found joy from serving the Lord in his house.
He has never left me, and I believe He honours faithfulness if we choose to offer it to Him.
Yean Li: While serving in church meant less time to study, these were moments when I was encouraged and refreshed by God’s people and His word.
As such, it wasn’t a situation where I thought of reducing my involvement, but I would pray even harder to commit my studies to God and to be focused in those pockets of time left.
Pray about serving. God knows our heart and desires.
If we are willing to be used by Him, He will definitely provide the opportunities and resources for us to do so.
- Do you struggle to balance school and church commitments? Why?
- What are the areas that God is calling you to prioritise?
- How can you be a better steward of your time?