The Perfect Summer Project: Me!
There is something special about summer. My mind automatically envisions swimming pools full of children, smoking charcoal grills, picnics, jet skis careening across lakes, fireflies, sunburns, and (if you are an educator) projects.
I approach summer as a time to take on tasks I would never have time to do during the year (e.g., painting the entry way with stripes). Summer represents freedom – freedom to set my own schedule, try new recipes, forego makeup, go to Walmart multiple times a day, and yes, start new projects. For some reason, I have a hard time being idle. I fear this may be true for many educators. We spend such long hours all year being productive. When we finally have a little time for ourselves, we feel guilty if we don’t have a project!
If you are like me, I want to gift you with a project for this summer! Let’s call it “Project Me.” Give yourself permission to make yourself your summer project! I want you to put yourself at the top of your summer “to-do” list. I’m not asking you to be selfish. I’m suggesting you carve out a plan to take stock of your spiritual self and invest in growing spiritually. This is the ultimate in self-care and a project well worth your time!
Where do you start? I’m so glad you asked!
Step 1: Get alone with God.
You may already be saying this is impossible, but I would encourage you to make this happen. Go to a hotel, a cabin, or an Airbnb – somewhere you can have quiet time with God. Shoot for at least 24 hours; schedule more time if you can swing it! If you can’t get completely away, try and carve out several hours for yourself over several days. We have to get alone and block out distractions as much as possible. This is something Jesus did frequently. If He did it, then we know we need to do so as well! (Matthew 6:6, Matthew 14:23, Mark 6:31) The sooner we start, the better. Summer will be over before you know it! Take a notepad!
Come near to God, and he will come near to you. James 4:8
Step 2: Express gratitude.
Before seeking God’s guidance regarding your project, it is important to take time to remember and verbalize your blessings. It is easy to become consumed with all of the wrongs we need to fix. If we are not careful, we can lose sight of all the good in our lives. Take time to thank God for His faithfulness. Write down specifics. For example, six years ago God orchestrated our move to Texas. Now we are near our granddaughters! I never imagined this would be possible. He is so good. Meditate on His goodness.
I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. Psalm 9:1
Step 3: Practice humility.
When we start with the goodness of God, it takes us to a place of humility. We are reminded of His greatness which is far above anything we can imagine (Psalm 41:8). J.I. Packer in Knowing God reminds us that God is personal, yet majestic. He has no limitations. His wisdom, power, and presence are immeasurable. If our thoughts of God are not great enough, we will limit Him. We must acknowledge the full majesty of our God (Isaiah 40:25) and where we fall in relationship to Him. Once we do this, we can humbly ask him to help us with “Project Me.”
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24
God listens when we sincerely seek him (I Peter 3:12). Through the power of the Holy Spirit, He will reveal to us areas of our lives that need attention. Write down all that comes to mind. Don’t sensor what you are hearing from God. Don’t beat yourself up. His grace will cover you.
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6
Step 4: Prioritize and plan.
I don’t know what the Holy Spirit will reveal to you. As you review your notes, look for overriding themes. Some might include forgiveness, anger, discontentment, or pride. Maybe you are convicted to spend more time in prayer, in Bible study, or in community with other believers. Take time to pray about where God wants you to start. Don’t rush this, and don’t overload yourself! Ask the Holy Spirit to identify your very own personal summer project (John 16:13). You may not be able to create a full-blown plan, but determine your next step. Once you start, God will orchestrate your remaining tasks.
We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9
Step 5: Surrender daily.
It’s great to have a plan, but we all know what happens to plans without follow through – nothing. As educators we know if we want to be better at something, there must be repetition. The same is true for spiritual maturity. Establishing daily habits – a new normal – is crucial. God desires for each of us to experience the joys of a faith filled life. We won’t be perfect, but obedience to God proves our love for Him (1 John 5:2-3), demonstrates our faithfulness to Him (1 John 2:3-6), glorifies Him in the world (1 Peter 2:12), and opens avenues of blessing for us (John 13:17). Completing our summer project will only come to fruition when we purposefully choose to execute what God has called us to do.
Make this your best summer ever! Put “Project Me” at the top of your list! I’m praying for you!
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:16-21