Question: "What does the Bible say about being a good student?"
Answer: The general call of Scripture to lead a holy and righteous life applies to students as it does to all Christians. Although Colossians 3:23 was written to slaves, the principle holds true for students and anyone else faced with a task: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”
Our Lord Jesus provides an example of being a good student. Luke sums up Jesus’ childhood with one verse: “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). In whatever formal education Jesus received, He responded with growth. He learned—and growth and learning should be the basic goal of every student.
Scripture also contains a few specific references to students from which we can learn. Matthew 10:24 recounts Jesus’ words that “the student is not above the teacher.” Jesus said this in the context of warning His disciples about persecution; Jesus had been maligned and the disciples would be as well. But we can also take from this that being a good student involves recognizing authority. Students who have little respect for their teachers or who take an attitude of “rules don’t apply to me” are hurting their own ability to learn.
In another passage, Jesus says, “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher” (Luke 6:40). Jesus was talking about judging others and the blind leading the blind. But one application of these words is that students should choose their teachers carefully, because training naturally leads to a student’s emulation of his or her teacher.
Another biblical principle of being a good student is self-discipline. The book of Proverbs instructs us to bring our attitudes and actions under control in the learning process. In Proverbs 2 we as students of wisdom must want to learn (verses 2–3), understand the value of wisdom (verse 4), seek the Lord’s help (verses 6–8), and be discerning (verses 12–15).
Full-time students are essentially “employees” of their teachers, and they can look at their schooling as work done on a job. Instead of being paid monetarily, students receive compensation in the form of knowledge and skill. Viewing one’s schooling this way, a student should cultivate godly principles governing work: a good student will exhibit responsibility, dependability, promptness, industry, endurance, initiative, etc.
Of course, there is a difference sometimes between being a good student and getting good grades, and one’s report card does not always reflect the amount of learning taking place. There are good students who unfortunately earn poor grades, and there are poor students who know what to do to receive good grades. Being a good student is more about submitting to authority, being self-disciplined, maintaining a godly work ethic, and gleaning wisdom. This leads to a holy and discerning life that glorifies the Lord.
All of us are to be good students of the Word of God, since “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16) and the memorization and application of God’s Word can keep us from sin (Psalm 119:7, 11).