3 Ways To Grow Your Faith In Grad School
Life in graduate school presents unique challenges for people who follow Jesus. There's a new normal for almost everything: work, study, relationships, exercise, spiritual disciplines, and church all end up looking slightly different under the new constraints of graduate studies.
While it can be overwhelming to navigate this new normal, this doesn't mean that your experience working towards a Masters degree or Ph.D has to negatively impact your faith life.
Jesus came so that people could experience life in its fullness (John 10:10). This is true for graduate students as well!
Below, we've compiled 3 practical ways graduate students can grow their faith in grad school:
1. Join a spiritual community
People are made for relationship. This need is built into the fabric of our being and doesn't stop being true because we're busy pursuing our advanced degree.
Joining a church, campus group, or small group Bible study can be the difference between making deep connections with other people in graduate school or just floating through.
Connecting with other Christians in a regular habit of prayer, Bible study, and fellowship is an essential practice for graduate students wanting to grow their faith.
Bonus tip: Finding colleagues or fellow grad students who are Christian is a game-changer. Being able to connect over the common experience of professional life in higher education and faith can help you feel more connected to your campus and vocation.
2. Find spiritual rhythms that fit your new context
To be blunt, it's hard to find time to engage in regular spiritual rhythms in grad school. Between reading, research, papers, conferences, and teaching, it can be difficult to find the time to regularly connect with God. And honestly, it's normal to feel too tired or unmotivated to read ANOTHER thing as you ease into your grad school schedule.
It's important to find spiritual rhythms that you'll be motivated to be consistent with. Adding contemplative rhythms like centering prayer or guided audio prayer [we like the daily prayers that Pray As You Go offers] can be effective but meaningful ways to maintain patterns of prayer.
You might also find that taking a walk, adding creative practices like coloring or drawing, or building in a half-day Sabbath once a week helps to keep you rooted in your faith without feeling too much like "more homework".
3. Build times of unstructured play into your life
It's important to remember that you are more than what you produce. While much of grad school puts students in a position to have their work and lives constantly evaluated; it's important to carve out times of unstructured play as a counterpoint to this reality.
Play is the antidote to stress. It helps reduce anxiety and reminds us that there's more to life than our work. Spiritually healthy graduate students use play to keep work from taking over every part of their life.
Spend time with friends, go camping, play basketball, read a comic book, eat good food, play an instrument, and count these things as a part of "life in its fullness."