Backpacks. Books. Pens. Paper. Binders.
I don’t know about you guys, but there is something about school supplies that gets me so excited. I walk into Target and Walmart around this time of year and I have to practice a great deal of self-control so that I won’t spend all my money on school supplies that I don’t need (I’m not even in school!!).
I think my infatuation with school supplies is tied back to the blank-slate newness that comes at the beginning of the school year. This week our Heights Students team has taken some time to think about going back to school and all the advice we would give our highschool selves if we could. We wanted to share some of these thoughts with you as you wrap up your first week of the 2015-2016 school year. Whether you’re a teenager, college kid, parent or anywhere in between, we hope these will help you have a successful year and, ultimately, walk in a manner worthy of the gospell!
1. GET TO KNOW YOUR ADMINISTRATORS AND TEACHERS
Take time to build relationships with your principles, secretaries and teachers. Get to know them. Ask them their story and why they do what they do. It is always good to have solid relationships with people that are older and wiser (and more powerful) than you. Trust me, this will pay off in the end!
2. TAKE RISKS
When you hear the statement, “take personal risks to bring the gospel to every relationship,” we don’t mean go and grab a bullhorn, stand on top of your lunch table and shout at people, telling them they will burn in hell if they don’t follow Jesus.
Although people who do not KNOW Jesus are on a collision course with destruction, think about taking risks through this different, and equally as risky, approach. You have countless conversations with people from all walks of life every single day. From teachers to friends, coaches to teammates, coworkers to family and everyone in between, the opportunities to make much of Jesus are endless.
What does risk look like for you? It might be as small as helping someone understand an english assignment or as big as eating lunch with a completely different group of people than normal and sharing your story with them. The point isn’t what you are doing or how “big” of a risk you are taking; it is how you do it. You can bring the gospel through your attitude, your generosity, your words, and the whole of the way that you conduct yourself. We get to take risks and make much of Jesus in all that we do, not so that we can boast in how great we are or try to earn God’s love, but so others might see more clearly who God is and how He loves them.
Hopefully at some point, this all moves from risk to rational. This lifestyle of Gospel proclamation becomes your “reasonable service,” as Paul says in Romans 12:1.
3. PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE
I’ll give you a second to stop rolling your eyes. This will be hard to some of you. Scratch that. All of you.
We love our phones, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But I know myself and when I have my phone beside me while trying to do work, I am pretty worthless at focusing. I will work for maybe 5 minutes, then check my phone to see what’s happening in my group text then hop onto twitter to see what my people are saying and then pull up vine so I can literally LOL at people making a fool of themselves and before I know it, I’ve spent 20 minutes sucked into phone world and completely forgotten what I was working on. With all these little bits on info from so many different places coming in at one point, our brains struggle to focus and actually retain any important or relevant info.
I’m not saying go and throw your phone away, but set little goals for yourself to take breaks from your phone and allow your brain to focus. For instance, try setting a timer for 15 minutes. For those 15 minutes, put your phone out of your sight and work on one task. Then when the timer goes off, give yourself a little phone break and start again. You’ll be amazed by how much you can get done without constantly checking your phone!
4. EXPECT GOD TO MOVE
God is constantly moving and building His Kingdom. Want to know the crazy thing about the gospel?! He wants to use broken, messy people to do it (Eph. 2:10)! That means YOU. The question is, how are you making space for Him to move through you? You’ve heard us say time and again, “where you foot falls is your mission field.” As your feet hit the ground every morning, ask God to give you vision to see how He is working and how He wants to use you. Look for it in rhythms of your day-to-day life.
5. DON’T COMPLAIN
Don’t be that guy/girl. When the complaining begins around you, don’t jump in immediately. Instead of seeing problems, see solutions! If you struggle with this, check out Philippians 2:14-15 for some encouragement to help you fight against whining!
6. VALUE THE WORD
With all the assignments, and busy schedules, it’s easy to let the Bible just become another book on a shelf. Don’t treat reading your Bible like homework. God desires us to meditate on his word day and night; not because he wants us to be miserable and bored, but because he knows that his word is a fountain of life. It shows us more of who God is, who we are, and what life lived as a citizen of the Kingdom of God is intended to be like.
Don’t know where to begin? Click here to get in on the church’s INFUSE reading plan.
7. ONLY THE GOSPEL SAVES
Not grades. Not a boyfriend or girlfriend. Not sports. Not social standing. None of these things provide eternal identity, satisfaction or purpose.
Too often we make idols out of our favorite activities. These things were never intended to bear the weight we give them. No matter our level of success or failure in school or sports or work, it is Christ alone that brings lasting satisfaction.
Your ability to do a sport, succeed in theater, or excel in math must be seen as an opportunity to worship God. To see these things properly we must start with understanding. You have a Creator. He made you with a purpose. Walk with Him and for Him. Jesus died to bring this to you and the people surrounding you every day. Ask God to draw you deeper into the gospel this year!
Here’s to the 2015-2016 school year and all that God is going to do through each of us this year! Build Your Kingdom here this year, Lord!
What advice would you add to our list? Comment below and let us know!
This post was written by a combination of The Heights Student Ministry team.