Written by Elisabeth Lee
Every July in the United States, store clerks stock cardboard displays with glue sticks, Ticonderoga #2 pencils, and Fiskars scissors. Moms see the endless rows of backpacks and lunch boxes and start a happy dance in the middle of the aisles. Kids start complaining about waking up early, and teachers pull out the dusty lesson plans.
Back-to-school is not only an event in the lives of schools and families but also for churches. Staff members prepare to resume weekly programming, recruit volunteers, promote back-to-school events, and finalize fall events. Ministers fill their schedules with appointments from mid-July to mid-August in preparation for the transition.
For many ministers, the transition to a fast-paced August falls quickly on the heels of a summer sprint of student camps and mission trips. They barely have time to unpack their suitcase before notifications pop up regarding upcoming meetings at church. Most simply try to endure the transition.
What if August could serve a different purpose? What if it was more than wrapping up summer events and kicking off back-to-school activities? What if August becomes the month where our hearts and lives transform?
As a result of being a believer in Jesus, He grants us the position of co-heir, which means we are gifted the same guidance God gave Jesus (Romans 8:17). He offers counsel into the practical, busy, hours of August. Paul, the author of Romans, writes to followers of Christ about how to do so.
In Romans 12:2, God extends the invitation to renew the mind of our God-given capacity to think. In other words, we pay attention to what we are thinking about in a particular area and reflect upon it. If we examine our thoughts with His help, we become aware of necessary shifts in our thinking, and He continues the transformation process.
The only way to know what we thought in the past is to turn around and look back. There are many words to describe this process. Reflect. Pause. Think. Meditate. Ponder. Contemplate. Muse. Whatever you name it, you are granted guidance as you invest your time into reflection.
One useful element to help identify thoughts is reflective writing.
Reflective writing helps people learn from practical, particular experience. It identifies the way we think during an activity, experience, or season and helps make sense of it all.
We, at Ministry to Parents, created My Moments of Summer 2019. This two-page PDF is designed to help you reflect on the moments from this summer. We personalized the questions for ministers who are wrapping up their summer and heading into August.
Take some time to pull away, look back, and identify your thoughts.
Intentionally set a date on your calendar just for you. Print the piece, drive to an inspiring place, grab a cup of coffee, and rest. If you are digitally inclined, pull the questions up on your phone. Sometimes those notifications are just too tempting to ignore, so hit the DND button.
Paul clearly lists the essential element, just one sentence before he invites us into reflection. Romans 12:1 reads, “by the mercies of God,” which means by His help. We need His guidance as we reflect. Ask Him to comfort the wounds and shine light into what is hidden. Remind yourself He is responsible for sanctification (I Thessalonians 5:23-24) and we are responsible for nurturing the heart and mind.
When you take time to reflect, you live out the guiding truth of Romans 12:1-2, and you transform your life. You can make the past two months more than just dates on a calendar. They can become moments that point to a higher purpose.
This practical exercise guides you to learn about yourself during the summer months of 2019 and evaluate how and what you thought about events and moments. Allow the reflective writing to be one element to help the already-in-progress transformation of your heart and lives.
August 2019 will become a month of transformation rather than travail.
Elisabeth is a self-declared experimenter with a dilettante pursuit of macro nature photography and magazine design. Her job as the Content Director for Ministry to Parents fills her day with creativity, writing, editing, and collaboration with a fantastic team. She has worked in ministry settings for over twenty-four years including sports camps, student ministries, women’s ministries, and speaking events. She loves being a woman, artist, athlete, wife, mother, and friend.