The following is a challenge I gave my teens when they were studying time management in Proverbs. Even though summer is half over, this may still be of some use. Every other week, I write a letter to the youth in my church that relates to something we’ve studied in-depth. In the future, I’ll occasionally post some of them here. I’ve made a PDF available if you’d like to download and print it out.
Ah, summer vacation. So begins the family trips, the summer job, and the time when you can put the responsibilities of school behind you. The last nine months of work was a chore, and you thought you’d never get through it.
Think back. How was your spiritual walk over the school year? Did you grow spiritually? Did you attend church and youth group activities regularly? Did anything get in the way? Maybe school did; and then again, maybe it didn’t. It seems as if there was always something to do: homework, sports, music, holidays, the garbage, the dishes, and even walking the dog. Maybe you thought it was church and God who got in the way?
Anyway, you’ve earned it. The nothingness. Now’s the time to sit back and do . . . nothing. Catch some TV and play some video games big time. Right?
Summer may actually be the best time to grow spiritually. How so? Many of you may have more free time. Fill it up. Push yourself. Do something hard. Don’t waste the extra time you have this summer.
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” —Eph. 5:15, 16
Here are some ideas of things you can do to further your walk with God over the next three months:
Stay in check
Find a good Christian friend and get accountable. Having someone who helps you stay in contact with God is a great way to make sure you keep on the right track. The beginning of Philippians 2 tells us that we should look out for one another, be of the same mind. Don’t just look out for what you want to do, but look out for others. This is never more important than in your walk with Christ.
Do you have that person in mind? Let’s take it to another level. Instead of being a peer (of which there’s nothing wrong with that), how about being accountable to an adult—say, a parent?
Make family your ministry
Yes, you may not realize it, but your family are not aliens sent from another planet who’ve adopted you to torment you. They are people too. Pray for the individuals in your family. Make them a special ministry over the summer. How can you help Mom around the house? Is there something you can do for Dad when he comes home from work? Want to shock your siblings? Do something unexpected. Pull them off to the side. Pray with them in the middle of the day.
Have a project
Find something to do that will benefit others and not bring any glory to yourself. Get some other people involved. Set a goal to make a difference in one person’s life for the better. Ramp it up. Set a goal to make a difference in one person’s eternal future for the better. Need some ideas?
There are people who are hungry, tired, thirsty, sick, poor, homeless, illiterate, friendless, lonely, and in need of a Savior. Find them and make a difference.
Here’s what God says:
“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” —Col. 4:5, 6
Set some goals
Here it comes. The two things you hear all the time. Read your Bible and pray. Great. Right? Hopefully, you’re already reading God’s Word and talking to Him on a regular basis. If not, get a plan.
Of course, you can follow your church’s reading plan. How about going above and beyond it? Pick a book or Biblical character and give it a good study. Uh-oh. The dreaded “s” word in the summer. Yes, study. Try David, Daniel, Isaac, Peter, or Paul.
Choose to to do something really hard like study the book of Ecclesiastes. Need a plan? There are close to three months in the summer. That’s twelve weeks. Study—not just read—a chapter a week. There are twelve of them. Here’s a tip: the book is about not wasting your life.
The author’s conclusion is stellar. Don’t read ahead. Surprise yourself. Oh, the last chapter gives a little hint as to Who you are to remember while you are young. The book may actually be written to young people. When have you ever heard of a teenager studying Ecclesiastes? Go for it.
Get a piece of paper. Write down all your friends’ and family members’ names. Starting at the top, pray for each person on his or her own day. Call them up and pray with them.
Become a prayer warrior. Get some hard things done.
“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” —James 5:16b (emphasis added)
Get a lot of hard things done.
Read a good book
Find a good book to read. Expand your horizons. Expand your spiritual horizons. Still want to know what to do with your life? Try (and this is a great title) Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will or How to Make a Decision without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Impressions, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, Etc. by Kevin DeYoung. It’s a short book (haha) about getting motivated to doing things for God.
Maybe you’d like to look at how God loves you. I’m not talking about the (wonderful sigh in a soft voice) “God is love” love. No way. We’re talking about God being a consuming fire and He’s protecting His glory type of love. It should prompt you to have authentic faith. Crazy Love by Francis Chan tries to show just that.
There are many other great books out there that you can read. Need some ideas? Ask your youth pastor. Don’t have the money to get them? I’m sure your youth pastor will let you borrow some.
As you can see, there’s a lot you can do over the summer. Get up, walk out into the big blue room with the big yellow light that moves as the day goes on, and “make the best use of time” (Eph 5:15, 16).