Summer vacation—a chance to rest our minds, recharge our spirits, recreate our bodies, reconnect with our families, and refill our bank accounts! I know you (and faculty/staff) are definitely looking forward to your summer vacation, as April at Bob Jones University is akin to riding a bullet train. Dr. Pettit recently said, “After April, we have graduation, and after that—‘collapse-ation’!”
What can you do to proactively plan for a summer vacation that becomes an investment in your life, growth and development rather than just a break from normal responsibilities?
First, plan your rest. The fact is, you have been working hard under a lot of pressure, and you need a break. It may not be wise for you to go from the frenetic pace of school directly into working two jobs, a summer camp, or a full slate of summer classes. Even Jesus, though He was perfect, would leave His crowded ministry for a secluded place (Luke 4:42). While you don’t want to turn the break into an indulgence in laziness, it is right and good to get some extra rest.
You can rest in the midst of responsibilities as well. Most of you will have to work during the summer. Work is a great opportunity to finance your schooling, gain experience and be a testimony for Christ. However, set realistic goals for the summer that are balanced. A good rule of thumb is to think in thirds. One-third of your day spend working—earning money for college, helping at home or serving at church. Another third, spend resting—getting consistent sleep at night and napping at designated times. Use the final third to invest in others and in yourself. Plan time with people. Have a plan for Bible reading and prayer. Read a book you choose to read! Take a walk or run. Watch a good movie or television show.
Second, reconnect with your family. You are growing, maturing and changing, and your family will be blessed by the opportunity to reconnect with you and you with them. Be patient with them when they expect you to be the same young man or young woman that left for college. God has been teaching you a lot about yourself, your background, and about Him. Share what you have been learning with your family and let them see how you have grown through how you serve and encourage them.
Be careful not to come back as the expert on everything, however. You have journeyed in your education through history. You have inspected the smallest particles and journeyed to the farthest galaxy. You have probed (and answered—sort of) the deepest questions of theology and philosophy. Your family has gone on with life. Reconnecting with your family is a time to reconnect with real life in the day-to-day world.
Reconnect with your friends as well. After being in a culture at BJU where you are challenged to “Learn, Love and Lead,” put your experience with your fellow students into practice with your friends back home. See who needs encouragement. Find someone who needs discipleship. Share the Gospel with those you know need Christ. The fact you include them in your break means a great deal and provides a platform of ministry in their personal lives.
Finally, respond to opportunities to serve in your church. When I served as a pastor in Detroit, it was a tremendous blessing when college students came back home and got involved in the ministries of our church. Meet with your pastor when you return and share with him how God is teaching you. Tell him that you are eager to be a blessing to your church family. Volunteer to help with Vacation Bible School. Offer to substitute in teaching Sunday school or children’s church so the regular workers can have a break. Ask if you can serve—don’t wait for someone to ask you.
Perhaps you are planning to go to a camp or on a mission trip. Make sure you connect your service to your local church. Ask them if they will let you share with them what you are doing so that they will be co-laborers together with you in prayer. This is valuable! Send them updates while you are away serving so they can pray specifically. Report to them when you return. You will be surprised how meaningful this will be to you and to them.
Summer vacation is almost here. Be prepared to make your summer count for Christ as you get rest, as you reconnect with family and friends, and as you respond to opportunities to serve for the glory of God!