by Gus Hernandez, Jr.
Summer break! Two words that almost immediately bring some form of excitement upon every college student. These two words even become a motivational phrase helping students persevere through the last few weeks of the semester. So now that summer break is finally here, what should you do during this time? I want to offer three simple suggestions for maximizing your summer break: relax, reflect, and re-establish.
This one may seem obvious, but I believe you should purposefully take some time to just unwind and relax. You just endured another stressful semester in college, and you probably expended a lot of energy during your final exams week. Take some time to simply relax. Relaxation not only helps you feel better, but it also improves your energy in the long run. If you go-go-go, never stopping to rest, you will burn out. Schedule in some “down time” during your summer break. Relaxing will help you get more out of your summer, and it will help you return refreshed and ready for your next semester.
It’s really important to reflect on your past semester, both academically and spiritually. Asking yourself some questions will help you determine how successful you were at achieving your academic and spiritual goals.
Try asking yourself the following academic questions:
Did I use my time wisely this semester?
Did I take enough courses this semester?
Was I too busy this semester?
Am I satisfied with the effort I put forth in my academic pursuits?
Was education a priority in my life this semester?
What could I improve to make me a better student?
Try asking yourself the following spiritual questions:
Do I feel like I grew spiritually this semester?
Was I consistent with my personal quiet time?
What areas of my spiritual life need to improve (Bible reading, prayer, Scripture memory, etc.)?
Was I a bold witness for Christ on campus and in my dorm/apartment?
How can I be more effective in sharing the gospel and living it out?
Was I faithfully involved in a healthy church?
These are just a few questions that will help you reflect on your past semester. Taking time to reflect will comfort, convict, and challenge you in your life. Don’t miss out on an opportunity for improvement; take the time to honestly reflect on your life.
Now that you’ve spent time relaxing and reflecting, it’s time to start re-establishing some healthy patterns in your life. Summer is a great time to re-establish your spiritual disciplines. Sometimes through the course of a busy semester, students tend to gradually slip away from their spiritual disciplines and goals. Take some time this summer to re-establish healthy spiritual habits. By developing these spiritual disciplines during the summer, you will most likely continue practicing them during your next semester. What could possibly be greater than re-establishing a consistent walk with God?
Also take time to re-establish a connection with your home church. If you were away from your church during the school semester, be intentional about plugging in and connecting with your home church when you return for the summer. You can be a wonderful source of encouragement to the older members of the church who just love to see young adults involved. Plus, you can also be a spiritual mentor to students in the youth group by helping your student pastor with summer camps and other ministry activities to students. Summer break allows you participate in some ministries you otherwise wouldn’t be able to help with during your school semester.
I hope you find these suggestions helpful in maximizing your summer break. May God bless your summer!
Gus Hernandez, Jr. is a follower of Christ, husband, soon-to-be dad, and college pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He blogs regulary at letterstomystudents.wordpress.com. Follow Gus on Twitter at @GusHernandezJr.