With springtime now in full throttle and summer just around the corner, one might ask, “How am I, as a Christian student, to remain focused on the Lord?” Embedded in a society that hardly acknowledges God’s existence, much less follows His commandments, we cannot assume that pollen and ragweed are the worst of our summer worries. Gone are the good old days when the American summer was synonymous with sun, baseball, and family vacations. At large, the student population now equates summertime with blockbuster movies, the latest designer fashions, and freedom. Free from school, parents, and waking up before the sun, today’s student may pursue his or her own agenda with little or no restraint. With this in mind, and as you soon begin to plan your summer activities, consider the following suggestions to help remain better focused on the Lord… all the while taking advantage of this new-found freedom.
Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing
Regardless of your summer plans, Christ should be at the center of everything you do. Life can be hectic, especially during the summer months. Considering this, I suggest you take advantage of possibly the two most consistent activities of your day: waking up and going to sleep!
I have personally found that if I can make Christ the focal point of these two activities, it becomes much easier to keep Him centered throughout the rest of the day. In the mornings I find it extremely beneficial to pray for strength and conviction throughout the remainder of the day. Pray that the Lord will give you a disgust for sin and an appetite for righteousness. Ask Him to provide counsel to your spirit when presented with temptation, conviction in the midst of sin, and a heart of repentance after you have fallen. Our Lord is faithful to us. He longs to hear our prayers and will be an amazing source of strength if we just ask.
As my day winds down, I always look forward to a time of reflection and journaling. It is very important that we take the time to evaluate our witness at the end of each day. This can be done as you pull the covers over your head or while sitting at a desk. Often times, I like to position myself under His night sky if at all possible. The important thing is that you allow the Holy Spirit to convict, instruct, and encourage you on the day’s events. As I said before, I find it helpful to journal my thoughts and prayers before I go to sleep. Often, I try to write down one thing the Lord has taught me and one way I could improve my spiritual walk on the following day.
The more time you spend in His word, in prayer, and in reflection, the easier it will be to continually keep the main thing the main thing.
Avoid Known Temptations
One of the greatest dangers that come with freedom is the ability to make a harmful decision. Our adversary the Devil is continually searching for ways to interrupt your relationship with God the Father. These temptations can vary from sins against your body such as smoking, illegal drugs, alcohol, lust, pornography, and masturbation, to sins against other people such as, lying, gossip, jealousy, stealing, and hatred. As most of these temptations will seek you out, it is important to be on guard against them. Never underestimate your enemy. Areas in which you believe that you are the strongest will often present the greatest hardship. In the same manner, be extra cautious of situations where you know you will be vulnerable. If you are struggling with issues of lust and sexual sins, stay away from movies, beaches, and situations where Satan may be able to use the surroundings to further entice you into sin.
Finally, don’t allow your pride to hinder any progress you may be making in overcoming specific areas of temptation. I have found that an accountability partner is one of the best ways to keep your spiritual life in check. For accountability to work, however, you must release all feelings of pride and self-defense. Your faith and trust in each other will grow in direct proportion to the truth and honesty exhibited in the relationship. True accountability will only work if pride is not allowed to be a part of the process.
Give Back. Don’t Take.
As previously stated, the summer months are typically a time when you will have the greatest freedom to do as you desire. With the arrival of so much freedom, it is easy to lose focus of God. One of the greatest ways to keep your eyes steadfast on the Lord is by giving back to your church or community rather than simply receiving. Here is a short list of ideas to get you started.
- Summer Mission Projects
- Many church youth groups offer the opportunity to share the love of Christ with others through either local or distant missions (including out of sate and foreign). This is a great opportunity to use the talents God has given you while fulfilling the Great Commission at the same time. I have personally participated in several of these types of project while in high school and college. Each one of them has been life changing and eye opening in one way or another. I highly encourage you to look for the opportunity.
- If your church does not provide opportunities such as this, check into other local student ministries or our listing of mission organizations in Deeper Devotion’s online directory.
- Home Church Opportunities
- You may not know it, but there are probably a million ways you could help your local church out this summer. I don’t know one congregation that couldn’t use extra help in the nursery or daycare program during the summer months. If you enjoy spending time with children, this could be one of the greatest blessings you’ll ever take part in.
- Most churches also hold regular church workdays. From my experience, they usually don’t require you to have any specific knowledge in order to help (you may even get a free breakfast out of it)!
- Extending a Helping Hand
- Never overlook your own circle of influence. I am sure that there are plenty of little old ladies that would love to have their grass mowed for free or their windows washed out of love. The Lord is continually looking for those that will take His love to those that don’t know Him… this includes your next-door neighbor. Don’t feel like you have to do it on your own either. Invite some friends from church or school to help. This in and of itself could become a witnessing tool as you explain what motivates you to help others for free.
- And finally, if we are called to share God’s love to our neighbors, how much more are we to share it with our own family. This summer I challenge you to help around the house before your parents ask. What a witness it would be to an unbelieving parent if they came home to a mowed lawn or a cleaned living room rather than a teenager asleep on the couch! Spend time with your younger brother or sister instead of beating them up or going out of your way to never be in the same room as they are. A little love can go a long long way.
As you look over this list of ways to give back to those around you, be careful not to dismiss them as hindrances to your freedom, but as opportunities only made available on account of that freedom. A giving heart will remain focused on the Lord much easier than a selfish one.
Regardless of what opportunities the summer freedom brings your way, I pray you would remember that staying focused on God is a conscious decision made at the beginning of each and every day. The above list is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to different ways to stay focused on the Lord. Keeping the main thing the main thing, avoiding known temptations, and giving rather than taking, however, are great truths to start you on your way to a Christ-focused summer!
Originally Published: April 28, 2003