before school starts, 9 ways to spend the time you don’t have

I’ve written before about really making use of the period right before Christmas Break, calling it the “Season for Something” and suggesting all sorts of possibilities. It’s a time when our campus ministry work is usually winding down, but it’s also a time when much might be accomplished with a little focused effort.

Certainly, August 1st doesn’t seem like the start of that sort of season. This is the season when – even if we are winding down some sort of summer version of our ministry – we’re ramping up to the start of school. It’s a Season for Everything, or at least that’s how it feels!

(Unless you’re serving in a Quarter System environment and don’t see students return to school until mid-September. In which case… keep on enjoying your summer break!)

But just like it’s tempting not to make the most of our time during the “December Decline,” it’s also tempting to neglect the important in favor of the urgent in the midst of the “August Advent.” Of course, I can’t tell you what’s most important in your environment – and surely some of those urgent items are truly vital.

Still, I’d like to suggest some things that might get skipped in this month’s busy season – but might in fact merit getting forced into the precious real estate of your calendar between now and the School-Start. You have to weigh these things, of course, but hopefully we’re not skipping the vital simply because of urgency, tradition, or “running our plays” without thinking about long-term purposes.

  1. Resting. Is it possible that you’ll be a better college minister if you took a few days’ Sabbath between now and the start of school? Maybe!
  2. Planning. I know it would have been great to have all your planning done by August 1st. But it’s rarely worth hurrying this stage to move on to the doing. If you need to plan some more, plan some more. The doing will catch up.
  3. Finishing. What might be worth finishing up, even if it costs a few days this week? If, in two months, you’ll be glad you spent the time to finish it now… then finish it now!
  4. Discerning spiritual conditions. Your students have experienced things, grown, and (in some cases) slipped up this summer. Assuming your ministry is “just as you left it” in May is a mistake.
  5. Adding to student leadership. Who says your upcoming leadership team had to be set in stone in May? Have any new students popped up as potential leaders this summer (see #4)? Or are there new needs in your ministry that should be student-met?
  6. Exegeting recent campus changes. Your campus has changed since May – and the demographics of the incoming class will affect things. I know it takes a little time, but examining these facts will go a long way toward better impact.
  7. Connecting with your family. As a missionary to the campus, you’re gonna have some late nights and long weeks in late August. It might be right and good to spend a little extra time on this end of things with your MOST important ministry!
  8. Getting fresh eyes. You’ve planned, you’ve prepared, you’ve designed, you’ve delegated. Now, it might be worth spending a little bit of time letting somebody else examine what you’ve decided. Sure, it’s scary. But another college minister or a trusted friend will likely see things you and your staff have missed – and it could make a world of difference.
  9. A day of imagination. This is kinda like #8, only using your own eyes! Could you spend a day praying and (re)imagining for the future? Half a day? What if you took your present plans, and you thought about how you could make each one even better?

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  1. Pingback: the last-minute, full-of-possibilities survey (a fridea for right now) « Exploring College Ministry blog (daily notes about our field)

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