As I watch the days slip by on the calendar, I wonder where the time has gone. I’m not ready for the approaching fall just yet—especially when I think about my oldest child leaving for college in just a matter of days. I’ve attempted to “stay in the day” and enjoy each moment of summer. The respite from leading a small group and Bible study and the absence of an overcrowded calendar full of kids’ sporting events, church activities, and meetings has been glorious. The margin has left room to chat outside with neighbors, sit around a fire pit with friends, and get away to make memories on a family vacation.
While in some ways I mourn returning to a more scheduled routine, in other ways I must admit I’m looking forward to it (and not just because the kids will be back in school). Taking a summer break in order to provide rest and flexibility is vital in ministry, but returning to spiritual rhythms can be the key to our personal growth as well as in the lives of those we shepherd.
I don’t usually look forward to exercising or following a healthy eating plan. Similarly, spiritual habits aren’t always easy to implement and execute with joy. However, the results are worth the effort. Here are some ideas that help prepare my heart and mind for the end of summer break.
Remember the reasons for spiritual rhythms. By revisiting the “why” for those things that will begin to fill our calendar, we can find renewed passion and vision. Whether it’s a Bible study group, midweek children’s ministry, or regular committee meeting, we can take a few minutes to remember how these commitments echo into eternity. Women will grow in faith. Children sense the love of their Savior. Missionaries receive support. Even time spent on budgets and facilities serve purposes that ultimately enhance spiritual growth by ensuring adequate resources. When we consider the lives changed, we can look at added responsibilities with excitement instead of dread.
Find joy in God’s plan of balancing rest and productivity. Just as God designed six days for work and one for rest, we also find Him creating seasons of celebration, rest, and times of hard work. During the summer months we find more time for walks, relaxing at the pool, vacations, and reflection. As our ministry, home, and work schedules fill up during the start of a new school and ministry year, we can find great joy in a season of productivity. God designed us for work. It was His plan for us before the curse. When we see work as a gift, we can put our heads on the pillow at night knowing we accomplished much to serve others and bring God glory.
Rediscover the excitement of possibility. The fall kickoff of ministry brings with it new opportunities. As we listen to God’s Holy Spirit we can find new studies or curriculum to implement that will spark interest and curiosity. As leaders, our posture toward the restart of spiritual rhythms will be contagious. If we find it drudgery, others will catch the attitude. When we approach our Bible study, Sunday school class, or ministry with excitement, we can inspire others with a vision to see the possibilities that come with inviting new people, studying new topics, and falling more in love with our God who loves to do new things.
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19
So while fall might bring a heavier load, it can also bring an opportunity to remember that what we do matters . . . for eternity. God-ordained seasons of work and rest, and endless possibilities lie ahead for us. We may relish summer’s beautiful weather and relaxed schedule, but we can also look forward to the joy that comes with the new spiritual rhythms of fall.
Melissa Spoelstra is a popular women’s conference speaker, Bible teacher, and writer who is madly in love with Jesus and addicted to the study of His Word. Her brand-new Bible study, Joseph: The Journey to Forgiveness, just released!