It’s that moment when you sit with your students and look into their eyes and they are done. And I mean done. They’ve pushed through the first of the semester rush. They’ve engaged their campuses with the gospel and they are spent. Like Paul, they would say, “I’ve been poured out as a drink offering.” It’s nearing the end of the semester and they are spent emotionally, physically, and academically. Maybe, if we are honest, we are there too. The underlying question we even whisper in our souls is, “if I kick this thing into neutral is there enough to get me to the end of the semester?” Have you been there? Does this sound familiar? The semester or quarter just seems to be longer than your stamina. So on the midst of being empty and being tired, what does it look like to finish the semester well and help your students stay strong?.
REJOICE IN WHAT GOD HAS DONE
Chances are, God has done some great things for you, your students, and your ministry this year! The psalmist writes in Psalm 103:2, “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” One of the quickest ways to burn out is to forget that God is the one working and assume that life change rests on our shoulders, not God’s. Psalm 126:3 reads, “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” How can you make some time for some “remembering what the Lord has done” with your students? One of the best life-givers to an exhausted group of weary students is to ask the question, “What are we celebrating?” or “What has God done for us this year?” Students will come to life because they remember and see the life change that has taken place. Part of wanting to keep going and finishing well is being reminded how mighty the One who is walking alongside of you is.
STAY THE COURSE
Has God stopped working on your campus since Spring Break? Has he caught a case of senioritis and checked out till the fall? Probably not. Don’t let the waning of the semester cause you and your students to check out. Of course the pace and intensity looks different than it does in August and September, but can you think of a time on campus where students are more stressed out, hopeless and empty than April and May? Some have partied all semester and realize that they are empty. Others have made grades their gods and are finding that their gods aren’t passing. Some students started off the semester feeling self-sufficient and have realized they are not enough to finish the semester. Wouldn’t it make sense that the Gospel should be continued to proclaim on campus during a time when the most students are realizing they need it?
Paul writes in Galatians 6:9- “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Let’s stay the course and continue to press into campus and students. That student who blew you off at the beginning of the year may be in need now. A student plugging into your ministry in April is still a student plugging into your ministry. Heaven rejoices just as much when a sinner repents in May as they do in September. Please, you have hurting and lost students on your campus as much at the end of the semester as you do at the beginning of the semester. Put in the time. Trust God. Do the work. Finish well.
INVEST IN THE SUMMER
Your students are making plans for the summer. Make sure you join them in that. Get a list of students serving in ministry this summer. Maybe they are serving at a camp, going on summer missions, or working at a church. Get a list together and send that out to the folks in your church, your alumni, or your prayer network. Some of your students are going back to broken families. Meet with them and help them walk through what it looks like to “let their light shine before men” and “honor their mother and father.” Some of your students left home in August non-believers and are now believers. You may want to help them process what it looks like to be a missionary back home.
You may want to consider having a commissioning service where you commission your students. That’s right, everybody. Whether students are heading home, to camp, to a job, or a missions project they are a missionary! They will have contact with lost friends and family. They are missionaries. If you can help your students take an active stance heading into the summer instead of a passive stance towards their faith, they tend to share their faith more and have less fall out over the summer.. Part of finishing strong in the spring is preparing your students for the summer.
PLANT NOW FOR A HARVEST IN THE FALL
The harvest you reap in the fall is directly connected to the seeds you plant in the spring. What can you be doing now to get the right students on board with your mission and vision for the fall? Launching well in the fall means that you will have your students leaders in place by the time they leave for the summer, if not before. This will give them time to plan and pray together before summer hits. Who are the students who have shown themselves faithful, available, and teachable? What would it look like for you to ask them to consider taking a larger role in your ministry in the fall? What training could you go through with your students to better equip them to be harvest workers when the semester kicks back up in September? Some of the best things that happen in the fall happen because you’ve invested in students during the spring.
March Madness just finished up last month. Nobody is celebrating how all the teams started the season, but everybody knows how they ended. What are some things you can put in place this week to help your ministry, your staff, and your students finish the semester strong?