Another school year has come and gone. If you’re a student, you’ve either finished exams week or about to begin it. You’re anticipating the break the summer promises to bring: vacations, recreation, sleep. Or, at least a slower pace. But, what about the slowing of spiritual momentum?
For some, this school year proved to be a time of deep discipleship and growth. Others may find themselves in a maddening rut of spiritual defeat. The summer presents both with an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to continue spiritual momentum, while at the same time, an opportunity to begin fruitful habits. Regardless, the summer can be a great time to refocus and prepare for the fall semester.
Here are 7 challenges I give to my students each year to guard against wasting the summer:
Read. Of course, you should read the Bible regularly; but, I would also challenge you to read some good books (notice I said “some” and not “a”). Ask a trusted pastor or mentor for recommendations. Think about this. Let’s say your summer break consists of 16 weeks. What if you read 15 pages a night 5 nights per week? That’s more than 1,000 pages! If the average book is 200 pages in length, then you would read 5 books this summer. That’s a serious amount of discipleship and knowledge you could pass on to new students in the fall!
Pray. Spend focused amounts of time asking God to move on your campus. One of my favorite prayers to pray is “Father, draw students to yourself this summer by the power of your Holy Spirit; then, cross our paths with those students this fall.” What if campus outreach efforts began in June rather than September? They can when you intentionally pray!
Connect with a local church. If your college/campus group serves as your only means of spiritual community, then the summer will prove to be a time of spiritual drought. Find a gospel-believing church to connect with this summer. Then, get involved.
Serve. This means more than simply attending a gathering once per week. Read the Scriptures with a younger believer, serve in your church’s children’s ministry, volunteer for VBS, serve on “clean-up crew,” or participate in local missions. There are a variety of ways to serve others in Jesus’ name, so serve.
Get a job. Before you write me off because I sound like your parents, please hear me out. You honor God by working. And you provide income for yourself. You may be studying to be an engineer, a nurse, or an accountant, but it’s ok to mow some lawns, pour some coffee, or flip some burgers for 3 months. What if you worked in a way this summer to provide resources for retreats, mission trips, and ministry later this fall?
Beware of idleness. The summer is a great time to relax and recreate; but, there’s a line between resting and simply being lazy. So before mindlessly giving night after night to that favorite video game or adopting the sleep schedule of a character from Twilight, guard yourself from simply wasting away your summer.
Enjoy your summer. There doesn’t have to be distance between discipline and delight. God is glorified when we enjoy the good gifts He gives us; because He gives us everything to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17, Ecclesiastes 5:19). Summer is one of those gifts.
You don’t have to slow down the spiritual momentum of this past semester; nor do you have to perpetuate a season of spiritual defeat. Rather than limping into the fall following a summer of regrets, leverage your summer for the spiritual good of next fall.
Chris James serves as Boston Collegiate Coordinator for the Baptist Convention of New England where he serves as Pastor of Mill City Church & Christian Student Fellowship, a multi-site ministry reaching students at UMASS Lowell. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi (BA) and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv).