As a college student you have an amazing schedule. While the school year always feels full and there is always a project, assignment, or paper to be worked on, you also have these incredible breaks. A week for Thanksgiving, a few weeks or even a month for Christmas, and spring break, not to mention summers! After you graduate the gravy train ends! According to the Bureau of Labor, full time employees in America get an average of 8.1 vacation days after one year on the job. That increases over time, but as a college student you have something closer to 90 vacation days (plus weekends)!
What will we do with all that “free” time? People often think of the concept of stewardship as being related to finances, which as a college student are admittedly limited. But the need to be a good steward also applies to time, and that includes breaks. They are not our own. If we have surrendered to Christ, then He is Lord of everything; so, how we spend our breaks are subject to His authority.
Summer jobs, internships, and extra time with family may certainly fill some of that time… but I have also seen many students look back with regret on wasted breaks. Three great risk factors that result in a wasted break:
- Isolation. God designed the Christian life to be lived in community. We simply do better when we have others around us who love Jesus. But breaks often rip us away from community we have developed at school, and for many of us, breaks plop us into an environment devoid of Christian community. All of the sudden, we are surrounded my people who aren’t seeking Christ in an environment where we have a history of unhealthy patterns.
- Laziness. Coming off of finals or midterms we often enter breaks exhausted and weary. While we definitely may need some extra rest, there is often a propensity to overdo it and move right into laziness. We feel entitled to a break after all the hard work and late nights of the semester. Before we know it, all we have to show for our break is days of binge watching, overeating, staying up late, and sleeping till noon.
- Sin. For many reasons, we are highly susceptible to sin over break. Sin, by itself, doesn’t waste our break, but often that sin leads to more sin and shame. Then, instead of responding with an embracing of the gospel and experiencing grace, we hide from God & others, and end up wallowing in our sin.
Knowing and proactively avoiding these risk factors will go a long way toward making our breaks valuable times of both refreshment and spiritual growth.
Make a plan for success
Perhaps the most important five minutes of your break will be making a plan. If you go into your break without a plan you are asking to fail, but having a plan can make all the difference!
- When will I meet with God? With your usual schedule left behind back on campus, it is really easy to fall out of the rhythm of meeting with God. Deciding ahead of time when and where you will connect with God will drastically increase the chances that you will do it!
- What will I seek to learn? Breaks can be a great opportunity to shake up your routine. Take the change in your setting to also change what you have been doing in the Scriptures. Perhaps you could focus your time in the Word in a different book of the Bible or on a particular character, or drill down on one of the core doctrines of the faith.
- How will I step out in faith? Ask yourself, “Where is God asking me to trust Him?” Whether it is talking to family or a friend from home about Jesus, or seeking forgiveness and reconciliation with someone you’ve hurt in your past, it is worth it. God is faithful, and stepping out in faith provides Him with opportunities to demonstrate that to you.
- Who will I do it with? God didn’t design you to thrive spiritually on your own. But for many, breaks remove the very community that has helped you grow. Be intentional about remaining connected with your community. Posting about your break on social media won’t cut it… make the effort to get in a real conversation with someone who cares about you and loves Jesus!
- Is there a unique opportunity for growth? Without classes and homework dominating your schedule, there may be possibilities that are usually impossible. Conferences and missions opportunities are often scheduled to fall during breaks.
These questions and the need for a plan are valuable no matter how long of a break you are heading into. Your break is an incredible opportunity. Don’t waste it!