I’m about to take a few weeks off, so here are some things we could do to be useful this summer.
1. Plan your summer wisely.
It’s so easy to be lazy and unmotivated during holidays. Make sure you don’t get sucked into the routine of just lying on the couch and watching telly all summer. It’s time consuming, unrewarding, energy-draining and pointless. Instead, plan ahead, schedule your days, take time to rest and to be productive. Fill your time with constructive activities whether it’s spending time with friends, your family, visiting people in the church, or attending conferences, camps and conventions. Don’t let September creep up only to realise your summer has gone. You’ll regret the sin of not doing what you should have been doing. Of course, many will still be working their normal jobs, but to those who will be taking time off, use that time well.
One thing I recommend you do, is to read books. Yes, I do mean a theological book. Read a book on a doctrine you are unfamiliar with. Read a Puritan paperback. Ask Christians for book recommendations. As well as theological books, try to get hold of a novel. I find that novels helps to stretch my imagination and helps me to relax by visiting another world for a moment in the day.
2. Pray for various ministries.
Summer is a tricky time. Some ministries and Pastors take time off to recover, to pray, rest, and organise/plan for the future. Other ministries, on the other hand, are hard at work. For example, beach missions, conferences, camps, conventions e.t.c. It’s important to pray for all kinds of ministries – the ones taking time off and the ones hard at work.
3. Encourage your leaders.
Some Pastors take time off during summer to be with their families. This is a great time for them to recover, and re-fill their buckets so to speak. Think about it; there are 52 Sundays in a year so think how many hours of preaching goes into those Sundays. Preaching requires preparation, and preparation requires time. Pastors work hard all year round not only to preach but also to care and shepherd the church. Summer gives them time to recover and work on the church rather than in the church.
Take time this summer to encourage them, pray for them, and to let them know you love them. Do this also to your elders, deacons and other leaders. 1 Thessalonians 4:18 – “Therefore encourage one another with these words.” I feel no shame saying this to my church. I know they will gladly pray for me.
4. Prepare yourself for next term.
What are you up to next term? Are you going to a different school year? Are you attending college or university? Maybe you’re going straight into the workplace? Are you moving job? Are you retiring? Maybe nothing at all will change. Whatever is happening, preparation is so important. Each term is different and can make some of us very nervous just thinking about it. Often times our reaction to nervousness is to try and forget about it and deal with it when it comes. We postpone our feelings and emotions to a later date which only makes things worse. It’s always helpful to take Jesus as our example. He was always prepared. He was so prepared for his crucifixion that he foretold of Peter’s denial and Judas’ betrayal. Of course, we cannot foretell the future, but we can be prepared by leaning on the Lord for guidance, and support. Prepare yourself spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Next term’s challenges may take you by surprise but if you’re prayerfully prepared, then by God’s grace, dealing with those challenges will be easy. Always remember that God is sovereign and is completely in control.
5. Pray regularly.
There is a verse in the Bible that just says “pray continually”. The whole sentence says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:16-18). I cannot emphasise the importance of prayer enough. Spurgeon once wrote, “I know of no better thermometer to your spiritual temperature than this, the measure of the intensity of your prayer”. If your prayer life is non-existent or not very good then allow summer to become a time where your prayer life is re-kindled. Read books on prayer and learn.
6. Read your Bible.
2 Timothy 2:15 – “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” You cannot handle the word of truth unless you read it. Read your Bible and get familiar with its content. Study what you struggle with and ask other Christians for help. There are plenty of online Bible reading plans to download and so many other resources.
Begin reading the Bible as you would read any book. Familiarise yourself with the story. You could also focus on a couple of chapters and study it carefully. Memorise sections you’ve been wanting to memorise for years.
7. Have fun.
What’s the point of summer if you’re not having fun? When I say fun I don’t mean the worldly interpretation of “You only live once” kind of fun. “You only live once so do whatever makes you happy” is dumb. It selfishly elevates the need for your own happiness. We all know what makes a serial killer happy. The phrase should be: “You only live once so repent and live forever”. Be wise with your fun. Sin can be fun but its consequence is by no means fun. Don’t abuse your freedom in Christ by sinning, but rather use your freedom in Christ to enjoy. God created summer – so spend time with your family, be with your friends, go places, love Jesus, and rejoice that it’s summer – nice weather or not.
Enjoy your summer!
Written by Pastor Gwydion Emlyn