A Summer of Purpose

May 21st, 2013

By now students can see the finish line and are leaning into summer break. Some places in the country are already out of school, while the year-rounders have only a few weeks left. Something about the middle of May stirs that desire within us for long, warm summer days and fuels excitement for what the added free time and rest may bring.

Some students, however, will not get much of a break due to summer jobs, summer school, driver’s school, and the summer sports season. But others will look forward to staying up late and sleeping in late, maybe eventually feeling a tinge of boredom.

Even if they have a lot planned already, teens probably have more to say about how they use their time during the summer than they do during the school year. The summer months give them an opportunity to practice stewardship. Usually, when we think of stewardship, we think of how we use money. But it’s also important that we be faithful stewards of our time.

Time Management

During the school year youth are told where to be, when to be there, and what to do when they get there. But the summer months allow them to organize their time, deciding what to do each day and managing work, play, and worship. So how should teens go about the task of time management? And what does time management have to do with faith?

In order to manage time effectively, we need to establish a purpose, set goals, and plan accordingly. For teens who face a wide-open summer schedule, goal-setting can help them determine some nonnegotiables. For instance, if they have a goal to learn to drive, then they may enroll in driver’s school and take the necessary steps to get their driver’s licenses, even if it means sacrificing other activities. Or maybe they want to take a college class during the summer. So they enroll in the class and commit to completing the course. Establishing a purpose and setting goals to achieve it determines how the time is managed. Youth have no doubt utilized this idea at school or in other areas of life. But they may not have considered setting goals that might help them deepen or grow in faith.

Setting a Purpose

One thing that often keeps us from growth—in any area—is haphazardness. Like the familiar hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” says, we are “prone to wander.” We go to church, we say our prayers, but we don’t look for God or anticipate that God might do something big in and through us. We don’t go looking for growth; instead, we just keep our heads down, moving from one thing to the next. But God wants us to be intentional about our faith—to practice it.

Some youth will no doubt devote a great deal of time this summer to practicing a sport or an art. By practicing they will grow, improve their skills, and prepare for competitions and performances. Likewise, when we set aside time to practice our faith, we grow in grace, prepare ourselves to do God’s will, and bear spiritual fruit.

So here’s the challenge: Help your students avoid being haphazard by setting goals for the summer that will help them grow in faith; then encourage them along the way to meet those goals. Maybe they will want to read a psalm each day, perform a random act of kindness every day, or memorize a favorite passage of Scripture. Whatever goals they choose, follow up throughout the summer and cheer them on as they strive to grow in faith. Set a goal for yourself also and designate time each week to check in and establish some accountability. Help make the summer a purposeful experience as you walk and grow in faith together.

This article is also published as part of LinC, a weekly digital resource for youth small groups and Sunday school classes. The complete study guide can be purchased and downloaded here.

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