If your schedule is anything like mine, from Thanksgiving to early June is booked. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, starting off new school semesters, winter revival, stewardship emphasis, Easter, graduations…. It fills up pretty fast.
Because I know this happens every year, I have adjusted my personal goals for study and growth to be primarily concentrated in the summer months.
Summer often allows for a little extra downtime that sometimes the schedules of the school year prohibit.
However, this kind of growth doesn’t happen automatically. It takes intention.
If you, too, are looking forward to some extra opportunities for growth this summer, here are ten ideas—in no particular order—to help you:
- Read—I keep a growing list throughout the year for summer reading and typically read a couple dozen books from June through August.
- Bible study—This is a great time to delve into a particular topic, book of the Bible, doctrine, or area of contemporary theology. I work a book or two on whatever topic or doctrine I want to study into my summer reading.
- Learn or enjoy a hobby—Sometimes those of us in the ministry forget to live with rhythms of work and rejuvenating. A healthy hobby can help bring balance to our over-extended lives.
- Listen to preaching—Whether it is when you are visiting another church on vacation or listening to messages on a morning jog, it’s encouraging and helpful to hear other preachers. Those of us who preach multiple times each week especially benefit from time to simply hear God’s Word preached for ourselves.
- Spend extra time with the Lord—Get up an hour earlier one day each week to get out in nature and spend time in prayer. Block off half a day or a whole day to just read your Bible and pray. Perhaps there is a spiritual discipline you noted at the beginning of the year you want to grow in. Take some specific steps toward that growth this summer.
- Spend extra time with your family—Take advantage of the later hours of sunlight for family time. Make memories with your wife and children. Take a day trip to go fishing or hiking. Get outside together, and have fun.
- Invest in friendships—Schedule coffee with a friend. Plan to read the same book with someone and schedule time to connect to discuss it. Think, too, through who you could invest in as a encourager or mentor this summer.
- Evaluate ministry needs—This is a good time to step back and with some clarity look at the processes, trends, or roadblocks you may be experiencing as a church family. God promises wisdom when we ask Him for it (James 1:5), but His wisdom often comes through insights as we step out of the current long enough to hear His voice.
- Study a specific area—This also relates to summer reading. Consider any personal or family needs or an area of need for your church. Find two or three highly-recommended books on those topics, and commit to studying and learning.
- Attend a conference—Attending a conference like Spiritual Leadership Conference gives three days of preaching, fellowship with other pastors, ministry-specific training, and resources. With SLC being early in June, it can jump start your summer of growth, giving encouragement and direction for you personally and as you lead your church family.
Perhaps the most important tip for summer growth is to plan for it. If you’re not careful, summer will come and go, and it will be the end of August before you realize you missed the opportunity for focused growth.