Summer is quickly approaching. College students all over the U.S. are dreaming about what they’ll do, where they’ll do it, and how much it will cost them—or how much they can make. I can remember thinking many of the same things as an undergrad. How can I make some money? Where can I go that I’ve never been? Is there a road trip calling my name? What adventure can I set out on? All these questions are completely understandable.
What I wish someone would have said to me during those years is, don’t waste your summer!
There’s no denying that the college years have tremendous potential for resume building, networking, and even generating income. However, there’s some other potential during these years that can have tremendous influence for the kingdom of God. I would agree that the collegiate years—and specifically summers—are incredibly strategic times, but to what end?
Here are five ways that college students can make the most of their summers.
1. Serve in international missions. Many churches, ministries, and organizations provide ample opportunities for college students to spend 2-12 weeks serving on the mission field around the world during the summer. These are incredibly rich chances to learn about needs in missions and grow a heartbeat for the lost and unreached peoples of the world.
2. Invest in a local ministry. Communities all over the country have ongoing ministries that serve people’s needs. These ministries may provide ways that you can work for or volunteer with them throughout the summer. Local ministries can take various forms, so find one through your local church or group of churches that are known and trusted. Then, give your summer to helping meet physical and spiritual needs in your own community.
3. Work an internship for God’s glory. The term “intern” doesn’t have a whole lot of attraction these days. Typically, internship roles are thought to be unpaid or underpaid grunt workers who get the short end of every stick in a workplace or ministry. Well, though that may be true in some cases, internships also provide a tremendous chance for college students to learn, grow, and explore potential careers. These can be in all kinds of workplaces, including churches. No matter the type of workplace in which you intern, don’t miss the chance to do this for God’s glory. Be the brightest light for Jesus, no matter the product you are selling or the ministry you are supporting. Learn now to be a faithful follower of Jesus in any potential workplace.
4. Kill debt. This idea for your summer may not seem to fit with the others, but I believe there is great merit to it. It may be that one or several summers you work your hardest for God’s glory in order to save money to pay for school so that you can be set up to leverage your life without restraint for God’s mission after college. It may be that this season is for you to prepare for the next season by killing any debt that you may have or ensuring that you don’t acquire more debt.
5. Invest wherever you go. No matter what you do this summer—or any other summer during your college years—there are several things you can and should always be doing wherever you are. First, serve the church. Whether in your home church, the church you attend while at college, or a new church on the other side of the globe, commit to the local church and serve. Second, invest in people. God’s mission always requires our investment in people, so don’t waste a summer only investing in yourself. Third, share the gospel. Be committed to making Jesus known whether you are serving at a summer camp, shadowing an attorney, or interning at a financial firm. And lastly, rest. You may not have the most physically restful summer on record, but you can find great hope in knowing that the Lord’s plans for your life are good and this summer will not make or break those plans. He is above all things and holding all things together, so you can rest in whatever you give your summer to, so long as it is done for His glory and Kingdom.
College student: don’t waste your summer. Though you may have people telling you that this is the one chance to set yourself up for a great career or incredible earning potential, there are bigger things at stake. Don’t ever neglect the kingdom of God in order to build your own kingdom. And, don’t ever disconnect your career or your college years from God’s mission. College student: don’t waste your summer.
Steven Ackley, his wife Emily, and their four kids live out their love for anything sports and Cookout milkshakes in Murfreesboro, TN where Steven serves as the NextGen and College Pastor at LifePoint Church. Steven holds a D.Min. and an MDiv from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. You can connect with him on Twitter.