Summer for teenagers has long meant working on muscles and tans and trying to impress members of the opposite sex. While there is certainly nothing inherently wrong with being in shape (In fact, I highly recommend it!) or getting a good tan or even showing interest in the opposite sex, I think you need to ask yourself if that is what your summer should be all about. Is that all there is to it—especially for Christians?
As your pastor, I want to be one of those people in your lives (hopefully not the only person in your lives) to wave the flag and say loud and clear, “NO! That’s not all there is to life in the summer!” I see way too many people who live for nothing of God’s purposes or lasting significance during the summer months. They either “veg” out or work hard on things that have little value. Here are three things you can do to not just survive the summer months, but thrive.
1. Get rest, but don’t be lazy. Rest is a crucial dynamic of health. Summer is a great time to get some much needed rest, not just physically but also mentally, and emotionally after a long school year. The concept of shalom is something that God intends for us to embrace. It means peace, completeness, welfare in all areas of life. And rest is an important part of experiencing the shalom of God. Laziness is another thing altogether. Laziness means a lack of desire to expend effort. Rest, on the other hand, means relief, a quietness, enjoying recreation and peace. Laziness means you don’t do anything. Rest means you do things that will bring you refreshment. Do some things that will help restore your soul this summer.
2. Work hard on things that matter. Don’t let the only thing you improve this summer be your body. Invest in things of value. Find a way to serve your community. Share your faith with your friends. Help out with VBS. Volunteer at the Boys & Girls Club. Visit people in a nursing home. Go on a missions trip. Do something that matters this summer.
3. Stay connected to the right people. If you want to not only survive but thrive this summer you need to stay connected to people who will help you remain spiritually healthy and challenge you to grow in Jesus. Hebrews 3:12-14 tells us that staying connected is the key to avoiding the traps of sin (and we know that there are plenty of traps out there during the summer). It also says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25). This summer, you need to be at youth group. You need to be checking up on your friends, and they need to be checking on you. You need to be asking one another how you’re doing, if you are exercising good judgment and discernment, and if you’re living your lives in ways that are pleasing to the Lord.