Young Person, Don't Waste Your Summer
Praise the Lord, Summer is here! If you’re a fellow Upstate New Yorker, we all know how fast this short season lasts. There are so many great options to say yes to and before we know it, it’s over.
We go from spending the whole school year jam packed busy with classes, assignments, sports and musicals, looking forward to a time where we can take a break from the busy schedules yet only find ourselves repeating the season of business throughout the summer. There are many summers that I looked back on feeling like it was wasted from either working way too hard or staying up late and sleeping in way too much. Though every young person’s summer looks different and there is no cookie-cutter advice that will fit everyone’s life, here are a few suggestions on how to protect yourself from wasting your summer…
Prioritize time with God.
Before taking any of the following pieces of advice into consideration, get away with the Lord and actually pray about what needs to take priority, as all seasons will look differently. Although some priorities like a job, summer school, or a big event might fluctuate in priority, the priority of spending time with the Lord daily should be kept first. What should be the focus of our life? To know God more and glorify Him as we enjoy Him and seek His will to be accomplished through our life, our year, and even our summer. Carve out time in your schedule to keep God priority, get a journal if you need to and make room to make time in the Word and prayer part of your schedule. Start with a Bible reading plan or challenge yourself with an intense Bible study this summer. If your church has a summer camp for your age group- do everything in your power to be there and seek after the Lord! Bring the habit of getting to know God more into the next seasons and you will see long lasting fruit to come.
Serve your local church.
Even if you go away for school and come back for a short season like summer- jump back into helping out in the kids ministry, serve at your church’s VBS, find a kid younger than you to mentor, clean or cook for the older generation, find needs in the church by asking a leader or pastor and serve selflessly. Go on a missions trip! Do not believe the lie that because you haven’t been around lately that there’s no place for you to serve. This is the body that you are part of to serve one another and together as the Bride of Christ, bring glory to Him.
Like so hard that at the end of the day you’ll sleep like a baby. Some of my most humbling times of development came from crappy minimum wage summer jobs as it is a prime environment to be shaped to look more like Christ as we depend on Him. Since I was legally allowed to work I had a job and before that I’d mow lawns and babysit. Working a hard non-glamorous job made me appreciate the time I had off and learn what it meant to earn my own money (not ask my parents to pay for everything). Was I a huge fan of it during the time? Maybe not, but it taught me so much about responsibility and prepped me for the real world- learning how to interact with different personalities, what it means to work for God and not people, and that the world does not revolve around me -looking back, I’d do it all over again.
Make time for fellowship.
Like face to face interactions with humans. Strive to be present with those around you. I’ve lived out summers being way too busy with work or locking myself in doors with other distractions as I felt like I was connected with others through social media. I’m not the first to say that there is a false sense of connection today when we are constantly updated with one another’s instagram posts or can contact one another instantly through a text. I’m all about celebrating and posting but making it a priority to connect in person and not just so you can post about it later. To laugh, to enjoy a meal, visit a new city and explore, go see a concert, enjoy a good sunset, go kayaking, maybe even shut off your phone once in a while will bring a deeper connection and will build you and others up tremendously. Especially making time for Christian fellowship, as we are called not to go at this life alone; have some Christian friends who can continue to point you to Christ and help bear one another’s burdens. Have fun with friends, make memories and enjoy the time you have with one another. There are friends in your life right now that will one day move away and family members that won’t live forever, make sure to take advantage of the time you have with them while you can.
Establish a rhythm of rest.
Just as it is important to work hard, it is to rest. As busy as summer can get, it is so important to establish that rhythm of rest. Rest may look differently from one person to the next but I would encourage you to keep a Sabbath, one day a week where you genuinely rest in what Christ has accomplished, where you can say no to work and trust that God alone is God. Where you aren’t fearful that things won’t get done if you don’t do them or that you’ll miss out on fun if you aren’t there- but that you deeply trust that Christ is on the throne and you are able to rest in how good He is. Whether it’s taking a break from work or too much busyness with friends, refusing to overpack your schedule and allowing your mind and body to slow down will greatly benefit you, your rest in God, and the people around you.
There are so many benefits from reading and I wish I learned that sooner as a younger person. If you have a library card you can download the hoopla ap and get free audio books. Should you only read Christian books? Absolutely not! Please, find a great fiction book, something historical, or a topic that you want to learn more about. But here are a few Christian summer read suggestions if you are looking to get your hands on some:
“The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness” by Tim Keller
“A Practical Guide To Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World” by John Stonestreet & Brett Kunkel
“Creed: Connect to the Basic Essentials of Historic Christian Faith” by Winfield Bevins
“In His Image” and “None Like Him” by Jen Wilkin
“Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know” by Wayne Grudem
Guard from binging.
I love watching a good show on Netflix and if you’ve binged all of Stranger Things 3 at this point, I’m probably talking to you. Listen, I’ve been there- after binging an embarrassing amount of episodes and questioning how I got myself there when I was finished. Am I saying don’t enjoy a good series? No! Whether your weak spot is Netflix, video games, food, or instagram- I’m just saying there is so much to experience in the summer so please go outside (especially when the weather is ACTUALLY decent!) and be present. Be present in the life God has given you! Don’t miss out. If you are finding yourself acting isolated and shutting down completely, talk to someone you can trust about how you’ve been feeling, open up and find ways to process what is causing you to over-consume. As you guard from binging and find a healthy balance, step out and live the life God has called you to.
I pray that this summer season would be one of growth and knowing God more! As you continue to learn and know how good God is, I pray that the reflection of His character will follow in your actions as you rely on the Holy Spirit to steward this season. Enjoy all the molding and great memories the Lord will bring through this summer season. He’s empowered you with the gifts and grace needed for this time, I pray that you share them with those around you, bringing glory to His name alone as He shapes you from season to season.