FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Fun and Academics

with John Bryson, Robert Lewis | February 24, 2010
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There’s no doubt about it – college is fun! But it also involves a lot of hard work. Today, Robert Lewis and John Bryson, developers of “College Ready,” a resource designed to help students make the most of their college days, tell students that it’s okay to have fun during college, as long as you don’t neglect your studies. Hear their advice for excelling in school and still finding time to make some fabulous memories.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • There’s no doubt about it – college is fun! But it also involves a lot of hard work. Today, Robert Lewis and John Bryson, developers of “College Ready,” a resource designed to help students make the most of their college days, tell students that it’s okay to have fun during college, as long as you don’t neglect your studies. Hear their advice for excelling in school and still finding time to make some fabulous memories.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

There’s no doubt about it – college is fun! But it also involves a lot of hard work.

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Fun and Academics

With John Bryson, Robert Lewis
February 24, 2010
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob: The college years ought to be fun years, they just need to be the right kind of fun.  Here are John Bryson and Robert Lewis.

John:  College is full of romance, and passion, and creativity.  I think of C. S. Lewis, and his wise words in The Weight of Glory that says, “Our problem is not desire, it’s that we don’t desire enough – we settle for lesser trinkets of sex and alcohol and those kinds of things rather than the full life that God has for us.”

Robert:  God said in his word that He has given us all things.  Here’s the key word:  To enjoy!

John:  Yes, in the right areas we want you to have a ton of great memories, and you to look back and have a ton of great stories, and road trips, and all nighters, and experiences, and all kinds that ought to be normative.

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, February 24.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife and I’m Bob Lepine.  We’re going to talk today about what we can do as parents to send our sons and daughters off to college ready for a great experience – ready to have a lot of the right kind of fun!

Bob:  Welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us.  This conversation this week is kind of making me want to put back on the letter jacket and head off.  I never had a letter jacket!


That was in my dreams – a letter jacket—what was I thinking of there?

Dennis:  Well, you did run the hundred-yard dash fast in high school, but you didn’t run it in college.

Bob:  I did but not as fast as the two guys in front of me.

Dennis:  We’ve been talking about this week about how we can equip juniors and seniors in high school to go to college on purpose – to have a vision and a game plan to know how to navigate the currents they’re going to face.  We have a brand new video series that Robert Lewis and John Bryson have created that is designed to help Mom’s and Dad’s and youth pastors to equip the next generation to not be a casualty of college.


Bob:  Needs to come with some kind of a discount for Bed, Bath and Beyond as far as I can tell because everybody’s going there before they go to college aren’t they?


Dennis:  They’re spending a lot of money for that, and here’s my point if you’re going to spend as it’s reported $1300 just to prepare for all the physical necessities of college why not spend a whole lot less for a video series that could be far more beneficial.

Bob:  Robert you have spent the better part of the last couple of years developing, brainstorming, testing, going through all of the motions to get this video series put together. 

I’m talking to Dr. Robert Lewis who is the President of LifeReady™.  You know what we haven’t explained to listeners that’s what LifeReady is.  Give us the overview of what you’re trying to provide for churches?

Robert:  Yes, I’m trying to provide video resources that would empower lay people to do strategic ministry in the critical areas of life.  Areas such as parenting, areas such as marriage, manhood, womanhood, and in this case preparing teenagers to succeed in what I think are the most formative years of their life, and that is college. 

Bob:  The college ready DVD curriculum for seniors in high school, and that’s the primary group that’s going to be watching this  - this is really part of what you hope will be a whole series of resources for junior high, and high school students right?

Robert:  That’s exactly right.  We’d love to have a series of video resources that give life skills to these junior high and high school students.  One of the first is what I think is one of the most critical and that is to prepare these high school juniors and seniors in going off to college, and knowing how to manage the college maze well.


Bob:  John Bryson is the teacher on the college ready video series.  John is a pastor in Memphis, Tennessee, and for years John you were a college pastor in a college town right?

John:  I was in Denton, Texas at Denton Bible Church with Tommy Nelson there, and worked with college students there at the University of North Texas for about 11 years, and then college four years myself, so 15 of the last 21 years of my life I’ve spent on a college campus.


Dennis:  You know you didn’t have any fun with Tommy Nelson – I know that!

John:  No, not at all – not at all!

Dennis:  Not at all – but college students who want to go to the campus want to have fun.  One of the topics you chose John was the subject of fun, and knowing that when we go to college we have to not only have fun but be disciplined to study.  What I’m going to do is set a timer here so that we only have a certain amount of time to discuss having fun in college. 


Bob:  Wait – what are you doing here?  Setting a timer so we can only talk about fun for so long?

Dennis:  I am.  Well, you know it’s symbolic Bob.  If you have fun it’s okay, but there has to be limits to your fun, and then you have to study.  So, we’re going to follow the fun discussion with academics.

Bob:  Well, my Mom told me we should study first and then have fun but you’re flipping it around and saying have fun first and then study?

Dennis:  I didn’t have your Mother!


Dennis:  So, we’re going to have fun first because that was how really honestly some of our kids were.  Let’s have the fun first, and then maybe we’ll study.

Robert:  Probably more realistic Dennis to the real college experience than where you’re coming from.

Dennis:  It really is – no doubt about it!

Bob:  John, I want to ask you – it’s a little scary as a parent to think that you’re going to spend a session talking to my perspective college student about having fun because I’m thinking I just want them to know a little bit about that.  I want them to be there for the serious stuff.  What are you trying to teach high school students about the importance of having fun in college?

John:  We really do think it is important!  We want them to have the right kinds of fun and really our theme verse or big idea for this session is that you ought to invest part of your time in college, and to make great memories.  That college ought to be fun. 

Our rally verse for this session is John 10:10 and it speaks about the devil being the one that kills, steals, and destroys.  But, Jesus came to give us life, and to give it abundantly.

So, we really unpack that and say, “College is full of romance and passion and creativity.”  We all love that.  

There’s a reason millions, and millions, and millions of adults flock back to college campuses on Saturdays, and fall weekends.  All of us kind of have this romantic idea about college.  So, we really kind of tap into that, try to channel that and try to give them a vision.

I think it’s the original lie back in Genesis 3 that Satan tries to get Eve originally to think that somehow God’s holding out on her.  That somehow God is suppressing them from having the fullest life possible.  So, I think it’s actually the original struggle to believe by faith that God has the best possible life for your collegian ever.

Dennis:  So, what I hear you saying is:  Fun is biblical!

John:  Absolutely!

Dennis:  Some kids need to hear that because they may have been sold that Christianity was not supposed to be fun, that they couldn’t have a good time.

John:  They do!  Absolutely!

Robert:  Yes, God said in His word that He has given us all things, and here’s the key word to enjoy.  I think part of life is a great enjoyment, and the kind of fun that John’s talking about is expanding an adolescent’s vision as they go to college to think of fun in some really big ways, some life changing ways. 

In some ways that when college is over they would look back, and they would want to remember those experiences, and even encourage their kids who go to college to have those same kind of big memory making experiences.  Not the kind of things that John says that if you take the wrong road you’ll say don’t do what I did when I went to college.

Bob:  I think your perspective here is really good.  You’re telling students that you’re going to look back on your college years with either some rich memories or some regrets.  If you decide on the front side that you want it to be rich memories that will steer you in some different paths than if you’re headed toward regrets.

John:  Absolutely, and a lot of it is inspired out of the book of Ecclesiastes which speaks to us really enjoying and embracing life.  I think of C. S. Lewis and his wise words in The Weight of Glory that says our problem is not desire; it’s that we don’t desire enough.  We don’t really desire God’s best for our lives enough.  We settle for lesser trinkets of sex and alcohol, and those kinds of things rather than the full life that God has for us.

So, it’s those underpinnings that really inspired this session, and yes in the right areas we want you to have a ton of great memories.  You ought to look back and have a ton of great stories, and road trips, and all-nighter’s and experiences and that ought to be normative.

Dennis:  One of my favorite memories around having fun was publishing an underground Christian newspaper with a young lady who became my wife.


Bob:  Now, you and Robert went to college together.  Your years overlapped a little bit didn’t they?

Dennis:  Oh yes!

Bob:  So, did you ever read this newspaper that Dennis keeps talking about?

Robert:  No, it wasn’t very well written!


You know what I said Bob – I said, “This guy will never write anything”!

Bob:  You know he’s talked about this newspaper for years.

Dennis:  My eighth grade English teacher said that, too, Robert so you’re in good company.

Bob:  I just wondered if it had any circulation at all, and you just confirmed that it really didn’t.

Dennis:  You know but back to the word Robert used—a noble big idea:  something to have fun around.  I also think of going to Campus Crusades headquarters in San Bernardino, California as a college student, and being paid $50 a month to work all summer to work with young people at the headquarters there, and going on the beach and sharing my faith—those were life altering, faith stretching events that were intensely fun.

John:  We speak to that, and really no other time in your life will you have three months in the summer, or spring break, Christmas break.  We talk about really investing those in some memory making experiences that broaden your horizons and expose you to different people and opportunities, and yes stacking those memory makers.

Bob:  So, you’re not taking a session here to point kids toward frivolity.  You’re saying there can be purposeful fun, and that’s what you ought to be pursuing?

John:  Yes, I think it’s a wise parenting initiative to not just play defense but get your kid to play offense.  Not just what to reject, but what to pursue, and to give them a vision to pursue the right kind of fun.  I think that’s empowering to your kid.

Dennis:  Now hold it a second here John did you not tell on this video series – did you not talk about some dorm pranks?

John:  Yes, I did – I did!  I have my share of them, and stories that were bad memories, but we had some good ones as well so we had a lot of fun.

Dennis:  One of those was?

John:  So, you’re going to make me go public with this? 

Dennis:  Yes – come on!

John:  Well, there was this one day when…

(timer rings)

Bob:  Saved by the bell!

Dennis:  Isn’t this – this is just like it.  You know it’s time to talk about academics.

Bob:  In case our listeners weren’t here earlier, you set up today’s program, and said we’re only going to spend half the time talking about fun, and then we have to hit the books, and it just so happened that you were saved by the bell.  If folks want to know about your dorm pranks they’re going to have to get the video series.

John:  The perpetrator remains unnamed.

Dennis:  That’s exactly right!  You know I am excited though that you point students to a proper approach to academics.  Most don’t really know how to approach college at this point.

Robert:  Well, it is amazing that professors on college campuses say 84% of students go into college without any kind of plan.  Most parents send their kids to college without any kind of plan.

Dennis:  Now, you’re speaking of what they’re going to do after college?

Robert:  No, I’m talking about the academic pursuits of college that’s then going to lead to a career.  So, they’re going to college with no sense of what my major is going to be, or my class work is going to be other than just something I’m guessing at.  But, it’s really more I guess.  It’s just more to get started in college rather than going purposely to college to prepare myself for something after college.

Bob:  Well, but you know most 18 year olds aren’t really sure what they want to do.  They are exploring, and they’re going to change their major three or four times anyway aren’t they?

Robert:  No, no not necessarily, and let me use a good illustration of my son.  When my son Mason graduated from high school, and we were talking about college, and a major, and all that he just flat told me Dad, I’m clueless.  So, the place we started was to invest some time and money in getting him aptitude and personality testing that’s available that we mention on the video.  It was the most amazing thing.  We went down together:  His Mom and I and he and he went through two days of this aptitude testing.

I remember we sat in the counselor’s office where she began to explain Mason’s personality, his gifting, his aptitudes, and explaining how those fit to some particular majors that then led to some specific careers.  As we talked about that, and how that related to Mason personally you could see his eyes light up.  All of a sudden he says, I could do that, and I understand that, and they were talking his language.

Suddenly college made sense, and here we are five years later, and my son graduated in small business entrepreneurship and became fluent in Spanish.  It was all because the day he started college he knew why he was going to college.

Bob:  Well, and if you have that kind of information you’ll want to get that far enough ahead of time so that as you start looking at colleges not every place has small business entrepreneurship as one of the things you can focus on so if you know what you’re looking for that makes the college selection process that much sharper right?

Robert:  What’s amazing is that most parents – most – I’d put in the upper 90% are totally unaware that kind of assessment and aptitude testing is available.  What we say is so important to start college on the front end with some clear ideas of why I’m going, what I should be studying, and what careers that could lead to.

Dennis:  John you didn’t have an aptitude test.  I think honestly Robert I wish I’d started out college with something like that.  It’d been so beneficial to have helped me understand what I was good at but John you actually had to wander onto a baseball field to find your purpose?

John:  I did!  I remember being at year two into college and kind of feeling that kind of flying blind, I’m not quite sure why I’m here, and kind of had that experience.  The one thing my Dad did give me is son you want to do well in school, make good grades, so that you have options.  Even if you don’t have it figured out, those first four years.

So, I remember a very specific moment where I was on a baseball field.  That was kind of my little oasis because I lived in a dorm all four years.  Really just made a contract before the Lord that I was going to do school well as an act of honoring Him even if I wasn’t sure what I was going to do next.  I really wanted to connect my academic performance as being an act of worship.

I remember Colossians 3:23 being exposed to me by a guy that was discipling me that I ought to do all things to God’s glory.  So, that kind of connected those dots for me as the way I engage my academics is an act of worship, and how my worshiping well in that arena was a turning point for me.

Bob:  You know I’ve already mentioned this week that my approach to classes when I was in college was get a decent grade so you can pass the class, so you can graduate.  I wasn’t really focused on learning.  In fact I didn’t see the assignment as something that was supposed to engage my thinking to move me in my thinking any place.  It was really just here’s the assignment, get the grade, move on, and forget whatever you’ve learned.  I’ve looked back so many times, and thought I’d like to retake a couple of those classes because they were teaching stuff I should have been paying attention to.

Robert:  Well Bob, and you know what’s interesting is college’s today are making a revenue off of people who have graduated from college, now are moving to retirement, coming back to college, and taking the same classes but now with purpose because they want to learn.  But, the thing that robs you from connecting the dots is you can’t answer the question, why!

So, you default back to your high school experience which is I just take classes because I’m supposed to take classes to get a degree, and then I’ll decide what I want to be.  But, that’s not or should not be the college experience.  You should have the dots connected. You shouldn’t be sitting as most college students are today with this haunting question in the back of their mind that’s whispering the whole time they’re in Economics, or History.

Here’s the question:  What’s the point?  You don’t know what the point is, and that’s why you have academic sloppiness and lose academic motivation. 

But, if you knew the point was I’m going to finish with this degree that fits my design and motivation for life, and it will lead to these careers that I would enjoy.  All of a sudden the motivation goes way up to perform well.  That’s the gift we want to give high school students who watch this video series.

Dennis:  College students need coaching in not only their purpose, and where they’re headed with their education but they also need coaching just to know how to survive the maze when they get a syllabus that’s thicker than any book they’ve ever read in the previous 12 years of school.

I can pass on my most practical tip of what you do to pass classes – sit on the front row.  Have your son or daughter sit on the front row.  It is the difference between a B and a C for me.  I made a couple of A’s along the way as well.  But, that can be a practical way.  What are some others that you talk about in this video series?

John:  Yes, this session’s full of exactly those kinds of tips.  There are all kinds of resources available to you.  We talk about sitting on the front row.  Taking great notes. There’s a tutor lab for every single department in almost every single school, and as soon as you don’t understand a lecture or an assignment go to that tutor lab, get it figured out. 

The reason these are tied together well with having fun is because discipline leads to freedom.  What we found is if you can be disciplined, do well, go to class everyday, take notes, hit a tutor as soon as you don’t understand something, stay read up, studied up, worked up, you have more margin, freedom to have more fun than anybody on that campus, and do well academically. 

Dennis:  You know we’ve had the bell ring, and we’ve had some fun, and we’ve talked about academics.  I happen to know Robert as you designed this video series that you designed it practically to help a student begin to set some objectives.  Explain the workbook and what would happen out of two sessions like we just talked about here.

Robert:  Yes, that’s a great question.  The students that go through this series all have a workbook where they’re following along with John, and gathering a lot of the data that John presents in the series.  But, the most important thing is what he does at the end of every session. 

He will give five wise moves, five key tips that if you do those you’ll succeed in that particular topic.  Then they are to write down those wise moves on this little spreadsheet, and then between sessions go out and interview parents, or mentors, or friends that they look up to, and ask them for additional wise moves that they can win in that area.  Like in empowering friends, or in excelling academically. 

Then when they finish with those interviews they’re to sit down and kind of reflect on what they’ve heard and then take what they think are the best of those wise moves – not only from John but from their interviews.  Then they start creating a vision for their college experience.  So, they go back and we give them what we call the “My College Vision Page” in the back of their workbook.

They begin to write down the wise moves that they intend to take when they go to college in order to win big in this area.  Whether it be empowering friends, excelling academically, dating right, and they write those down.  Then they describe themselves if they were to do those wise moves what they’ll look like the day they graduate from college.

Then they can put that spreadsheet—that “My College Vision Page” on the face of their computer for the next four years, and use that as a navigating compass so to speak to take them through the college experience.

Dennis:  Well, I think this is going to be a great tool for youth groups, and parents to be able to equip the next generation.  My challenge to Mom’s and Dad’s is to figure out how to get a copy of this, and maybe take it to your youth pastor.  Buy it for the church.  It can be used for the next five, ten years to equip young people.

I just think today we have to address the needs of young people before they go to college because we’re losing a generation in the spiritual battle.  They’re losing their faith on the college campus.

Bob:  Yes, I think of the Christian schools all across the country where this could be part of the senior year curriculum for their graduates.  Or just the Mom’s and Dad’s who will want to get a copy of this and invite their sons or daughters friends and parents over – cook up a pot of chili, crack out the DVD’s, and say, “Let’s watch this together.”

The point is let’s start equipping these young people; let’s get them ready for the college campus experience.  Go online at  There’s information available there about how you can order the DVD’s, how you can get extra copies of the college ready student guide and the leader’s guide that goes along with it. 

Again the website is – while you’re on our website there’s also information about a great graduation gift you can give to a high school senior.  It’s the ConGRADulations: Class of 2010 audio CD that features 20 songs from groups like Skillet, Flyleaf, Owl City, Toby Mac, Lecrae, Reliant K.  It also comes with a media DVD that has interviews, and messages from speakers and advice for the students, and there’s a 48 page graduation gift book that comes with both the DVD and the CD.

In addition to that there’s an audio CD that we send along that features Dennis and Barbara Rainey talking to Mom’s and Dad’s about the various issues you want to make sure that you’ve covered with your kids before you send them off to college.  Not just the things we’ve been talking about here this week but other issues. 

Practical things like do they know how to balance a checkbook, and how to get the oil changed on the car, do they know how to have a quiet time, and how to read the Bible for themselves, and how to find a good church?  Do they know what to look for in a perspective mate, and what to look out for in a possible dating relationship? 

All of those issues are things that are covered in the CD that comes along with the ConGRADulations package for your student.  So, again get more information on our website or if it’s easier for you to call 1-800-FLTODAY do that.  1-800-358-6329.   That’s 1-800 F as in “family” L as in “life” and then the word TODAY, and we’ll let you know how you can get any of the resources we’ve talked about here today sent to you.

Now, if you are a new listener to FamilyLife Today, or a relatively new listener – maybe you’ve been listening for the last six months, last year, you may have gone to the website, maybe even gotten in touch with us to request a resource or to find out more about the Weekend to Remember® marriage conference we would like to introduce ourselves to you by sending you a book that we think you and your family will enjoy and appreciate. 

It’s a book called 99 Ways to Entertain Your Family for Free: fun things you can do together as a family that don’t cost any money, don’t take a whole lot of time to prepare, and are just ways to make memories and have fun together as a family.  The book is our way of saying thanks for listening to FamilyLife Today, and for connecting to find out more about the ministry. 

All you have to do to receive a copy is call and ask for it.  Our toll-free number is 1-800-FLTODAY – you just call and say, “I’d like that book you were talking about 99 Ways to Entertain Your Family for Free.”  We’ll send it out to you and again we want to say, thanks for listening, we’re glad to have you along, and we hope you’re benefiting from the ministry of FamilyLife Today.

We hope you can be back with us tomorrow.  We’re going to continue talking about getting high school students ready for the college campus, we’re going to talk about how we prepare and equip students to be ready for the boy/girl male/female relationships that are going to happen when they get to college.  We’ll talk about that tomorrow.  Hope you can be here for that.

I want to thank our engineer today Phil Krause and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Raney, I’m Bob Lepine.  We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.

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