I received a call from a Christian man I really respect, concerned about a daughter coming home for the Christmas break from college. He's disappointed that when she lived in their home she appeared to love Jesus but ever since she started college he's been disappointed about her behavior based on what he's heard and her posts on social media. "What can I say to her that might make sense?"
We have nine grand children in or now out of college. I can't remember if I had "the talk" with all of them, but here's what I said to most of them.
Here's what I've observed about life and relationships; I will either influence my friends, good or bad, or they will influence me, good or bad.
So, here's what that means as you head off to college. I want you to have fun. Go to games and parties. Have great conservations over coffee or a beer when you get old enough. Enjoy the college experience.
But you were raised to be a follower of Jesus, that means you will represent him, good, or bad to your new friends. Unless you're an undercover Christian, they will be watching you to see if your "religion" makes any difference. That doesn't mean you have to present the gospel to everyone before you develop a relationship with them. But before you meet up with them I'm asking you to intentionally pray for the wisdom and the discipline to not engage in behavior or talk that will ever confuse them about who you claim to be as a follower of Jesus.
The word "intentional" has become a very important word and idea in my life. If I'm with Christian friends I can relax a little, because I know, or hope they will not pull me down, or tempting to compromise what I believe. But when I go to a party or gathering of non-Christian people I have to be intentional about what I say and what I do because as they get to know me I do not want anything I've said, or done to hinder their coming to faith.
I'll often ask God before I go out, "Lord give me spiritual radar for those you appointed for me to meet or talk with tonight. Is there someone you specifically want me to build a redemptive relationship with? Guard my mind and my mouth to make you look good and make following Jesus attractive."
I'm still surprised if I'm that intentional, how often I find an opportunity in the conversation to raise the bar. By that I don't mean to talk about Jesus. But at the very least it means turning gossip to something better, or trash-talk into something better. I am very conscious that either I will influence the conversation or behavior, or they will influence me. I can't ever forget that and neither should you, "Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”". -I Corinthians 15:33
So this Christmas/New Year break ask God for the courage to have "the talk" with your child or grandchild before they head back to school. And maybe send them off with this verse;
"In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." -Matthew 5:16