It’s crazy to think that school starts back in two weeks! I hope your summer break has been one full of making memories and the most of each day! The following pieces of advice are things I have learned or am still working on. I hope to encourage, inspire, and comfort you as you get ready for a new school year.
Audience of One
As teenagers and adults, we care a lot about what others think of us. We must be confident in who God has made us to be. We weren’t made to be a clone of our best friends. It’s okay to have things in common with other people and like some of the same styles as they do, but it’s never okay to buy something just to “fit in”. You were made to be unique. Stand up and be confident in who you are. We must know who we are in Christ to know who we are fully. It may take some courage to stand out and be different, but it’s so worth it. Don’t let the opinions and words of others define who you are. The only thing that should define who you are is Jesus and who you are in Him. It’s a beautiful thing when we stop being like the crowd and start being leaders for the things of Christ.
Be Bold in and for Your Faith
Leaders lead by example. There’s a special reason for you being placed where you are at. You may be one of the only believers in your class, or you may be one of many. Either way, I challenge you to be bold and courageous. Live in such a way that makes others wonder why you’re so different.We each have ways we can share the light and love of Jesus!
If you are shy, you can write a card of encouragement, be a genuine friend, or share your own testimony.
You are not Enough on Your Own
It’s important to believe in ourselves, have confidence, and do great things. Without Christ, though, we’re broken, sinful, and insecure. Most importantly, we are in need of a Savior. Jesus did something for us that we could never do on our own. He died on the cross and carried the weight of our sins on His shoulders.
While at camp, we talked a lot about each human bearing the image of Christ. I was convicted for judging people by their outward appearances before getting to know who they really were. Authentic and personal connections happen whenever we view people through God’s lens. We should be striving to see people’s hearts instead of focusing on their outward appearances.
I cannot over-stress the importance of keeping yourself surrounded by believers who will build you up and keep you firm when you’re weak. We need people in our lives who will pray for us and with us. My church has a wonderful youth ministry that has Sunday night services. Being at church makes the biggest difference in my whole week! Daily quiet time with God and Godly community is vital. We grow even more when those two things are combined! We have to make sure we’re being fed spiritually! Look for Godly community in your school. Having special and edifying friends with you daily will be a huge blessing!
Invest in Growth
While being in school, there are many of opportunities to find what you’re passionate about. I started Yearbook last fall. Because of being on the team, I’ve grown and gotten so much better in photography. I challenge you to take advantage of the opportunities you have been given. Try a few different things or just grow in what you already love to do. Having a fun elective will help you truly enjoy school!
Don’t neglect your relationships as you invest into your passions and talents. Most importantly, strive to keep growing closer to God!
What Lasts for Eternity
Due to being so stressed out in eighth grade, I cried myself to sleep a few times. Since then, I’ve learned that while school and grades are important, we shouldn’t let them ruin our lives! Stress never makes things better. When we are actually enjoying school, managing our time well, and doing what we’re supposed to do, things will hopefully go much better. Don’t get so caught up in the now that you completely forget about long-term. Let’s invest into what’s important.
Stay Connected to Your Power Source
Without your Source, you will fall. I want to see each of us stay strong even through storms this upcoming year. In order to stay strong, we have to stay connected to our Source of life, love, joy, and hope! We have to make praying and reading God’s Word a daily priority in our lives. It’s amazing to see God reveal Himself to us as we clear our lives of distractions.
Don’t be ashamed of your past any longer. Your mistakes do not define you. God used your struggles to make you into who you are today. We can’t change what’s already happened, but we can learn from our past experiences. We can readily help others who are struggling with the same things we once faced. No matter how your life used to be, start focusing on who you are today. God has BIG things prepared for you. Let Him take you as you are and make you new. He will restore you and make you whole. God has loved you for all of time. His love for you never ends.
This past year, I was really struggling with fear and anxiety. It was a hard battle, but I learned to claim victory over it each day of my life! I challenge you to wake up each morning and remind yourself that today is a victory day. You have already won the battle because of your Dad being Jesus. He is always fighting for us, and the enemy has no power over us. Whenever you start to feel weak, remember that today is a victory day.
Here’s to another school year!