When I was in college, one of my favorite parts of my year was summer break. No class, no deadlines, no school of any kind! I looked forward to sleeping in, seeing old friends, and going to the beach. I had also just worked like crazy during finals and I wanted to turn my brain off. I’m now a number of years out of college and when I look back at most of my summers, I completely wasted them. Yes, resting and sleeping was nice but turning off my brain had serious consequences. And more often than not, it ruined my summer.
While the school year can be tough, it can also have some real advantages. Throughout the semester students have routines, schedules, and goals they are trying to reach. These things have a way of keeping you on course and barreling toward your goals. These school disciplines even help students with their spiritual disciplines as well. If you know you have classes from 10am-4pm, you know that you will probably want to get in the Word before classes start. If you don’t, it might not happen that day. But during the summer, your schedule is wiiiiiide open. And if you have spent your summers like me, you have probably said things like, “Eh, I’ve got all day to have a quiet time.” Or, “I’ve got all summer to read this book.” Nope, it probably ain’t happening.
Growing in Christ doesn’t happen by accident. Getting older doesn’t automatically make you more spiritually mature. Unfortunately, I know a lot of 19-year-olds in 35-year-old bodies. Spiritual growth takes intentional work. So, instead of coasting all summer I would recommend going into it with a plan. I know, this sounds totally anti-summer break, but if you have a plan it will help you not waste your summer.
Here are some suggestions:
- Schedule daily time to get in the Word and pray
The most important thing any disciple can do is to spend time with Jesus. Jesus frequently called his followers to spend time with him (Mark 3:13-15). I recommend finding a Bible reading plan and sticking to it. This will help you stay on track and it’s an easy thing for you to do with a friend. I also recommend that you have you quiet time at the same time every day. Since it’s scheduled, you won’t miss it. You can also make a summer prayer list of things you want to see happen. No one grows in Christ apart from prayer and God’s word. I recommend the ReadScripture Bible app. It has reading plans and has video help for every book of the Bible.
- Read a couple good books
It’s also important to read books that are going to challenge and sharpen you. I’m sure you have heard it said that “leaders are readers.” If you want to lead yourself and others to be like Christ you need to read. I recommend two books: The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken and Living The Cross Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney.
- Write down 5 people you want to hear the gospel
One of my favorite things about summer was seeing old friends. It’s important for you to remember that the friends you have are not by accident. God knows and loves everyone you come into contact with. You know them because God wants to save them through you! Pick 5 people that are far from God but close to you and share the gospel with them. Tomorrow is not promised for anyone. Have some urgency and share with them frequently. Most people don’t come to Christ after the first gospel presentation. It usually takes multiple conversations.
- Avoid past pitfalls
Too many students are on fire for Jesus during the school year and then they go on summer break. Those who don’t have a plan to grow risk coming back spiritually dead in the fall. Most likely it will be because they didn’t spend enough time with Jesus and because of that they fell back into old sinful patterns. Commit to not getting back with your ex (don’t Netflix and chill), not looking at porn, or giving all of your time to things that don’t matter (i.e. video games, Netflix). Go to war against your flesh! Think of the summer as a time to finally break the sinful patterns that trip you up. Remember that in Christ, you are no longer a slave to sin (Romans 6:6)! Walk in that truth. (Pastor Spence preached along these lines in a recent message that may be helpful for you as well!)
Summers really can change your life. Rather than thinking about summer break as a time to rest, think about it as a time to train in godliness (1 Timothy 4:8). Spiritual growth doesn’t happen without discipline and a plan. A lot of growth can happen in 10 weeks. So remember to spend time with Jesus, read some good books, share the gospel, and avoid pitfalls. If you do these things, there is no telling what God could do in and through you this summer!!!
College students, we want you to know that Mercy Church loves you. Let us know how we can pray for you this summer!