Reclaim the Joy of Summer

Remember when you were in grade school and class let out for the summer? For most of us, summer was an exciting time with no homework, a change in schedule, and plenty of time to do what we wanted to do. But then we grew up and found out that work or ministry goes on year round and summer was not quite as exciting.

As the summer season begins, how about reclaiming the joy of summer? Even though we still have work to do, summer brings changes. Children are out of school, the rhythm of church life is altered, and at least some vacation time is available (as well as July the Fourth holiday) for most of us. Let me suggest a few ways to reclaim the joy of summer to get you started.

First, plan to take a break. Whether we work in a church or another setting, there is probably no one who is going to insist that you take vacation time, so take the initiative and plan for one. If you aren’t your champion for off time, it is unlikely that anyone else will be. If you can’t get out of town and have to do a “staycation” at least guard your time and let church members or associates know what constitutes a real emergency.

Second, take time for family, both immediate and extended. Getting away to a nice vacation spot with family is one way to change the routine. If you can’t do travel, look for things to do together locally that you would not usually do unless you have visitors from out of town. This is an opportunity to see your part of the country with new eyes. If you don’t have vacation time, do some mini-vacations--set aside a day or a couple of afternoons a week to take the kids swimming, go to a baseball game, or catch a movie.

Third, take some time for yourself. Do some things that you don’t normally do. You might set some goals related to your hobby—woodworking, landscaping, or whatever you have wanted to do but just have not taken the time to pursue. Hobbies get our mind off the routine and everyday tasks we are expected to complete. You might even set aside some time to practice centering prayer or just sit in the park and meditate.

Fourth, practice some lifestyle changes. With a new season that draws us to the outdoors, you might want to step up your exercise routine. This is also an opportunity to practice healthier eating, taking advantage of the fresh, locally grown produce that is available in a farmers’ market in your area. You might even think about getting more sleep!

Fifth, sharpen the axe by spending time on personal and professional development. If you have the opportunity to attend a pastors’ conference or spiritual retreat, do it. Even if your budget and time are limited, put together a reading list either on a subject you have neglected or in an area that will stretch you to think creatively. You might even want to consider an online course or MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) that you can complete without traveling.

Whatever you decide to do with your summer, find ways to refresh and renew yourself. Don’t obsess about what you do, but find some things that you will enjoy. You will be a better person and ready to address the challenges of the fall.

Ircel Harrison, Coaching Coordinator, Pinnacle Leadership Associates