How should our youth grow up in a society that craves busyness? One sure way is to jam their summer schedules. However, I clearly remember as a high school kid when my summer breaks felt long. I was involved in summer sports leagues but not every day. I was lifting weights and running but not every day. I would go to the pool and ride bikes around the neighborhood but not every day. I participated in summer sports camps and leagues but not every day. I had some summer jobs but not every day. I played games with the neighbors and family friends until late hours of the evenings but not every evening. I remember feeling many times that the summer felt like it was long…and I really loved it.
Parents, please be mindful that your son or daughter might want to be part of many different things this summer. After all, their friends are involved in lots of different things. I encourage us all to scrutinize the volume of activities we plan for our kids. With three young kids, my wife and I are still able to dictate their activities. It’s been told to me that as our children mature into junior high and high school that our schedules will be dictated by their activities. I cringe thinking about certain activities (sports and non-sports alike) which will consume their summer and eat up each day of their week. Sunday is always a day of rest and praise God for that! Why do summer breaks have to be about constant organized activity?
I have been reading a book by Puritan Jeremiah Burroughs called “Contentment, Prosperity, and God’s Glory” which is a follow-up to his original book “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment” (which I have not read). Burroughs uses Philippians 4:11-12 as his premise “for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”
I propose that if the school year is a time of busyness for your family, then make a purposeful effort to scale that back during the summer months. If the school year is a time of steady and slower routines, then feel free to ramp that up a bit in the summer. Proverbs 30:25 says, “The ants are not a strong people, but they prepare their food in the summer.” James 4:13-16 is a great passage to self-evaluate our plans and the ones we make for others. We simply cannot see into the future and predict success for our kids in particular areas. We can encourage them into utilizing gifts and talents that we might see them developing. We must encourage them to love God and their neighbor.
Research has shown (without an actual study being done) that God is sovereign and we are called to work hard and we are called to rest well in serving Him and others. My grandfather and my father-in-law have repeated to me the expression, “a man on his death bed never says, ‘I should’ve spent more time at work.’” Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 says “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.” So, with your summer plans, make them and own them. Protect against the societal pressure to be constantly on the clock and busy. Teach your children how to work hard and rest well.
Readers of iAt: What are some family strategies or expectations that you have for your summer plans? What routines do you establish to keep a God-honoring focus in loving him and serving others?
Come back to iAt throughout this week to read more about how you can make this summer more than just one to survive with your kids.