Three Tips to Make the Most of Your Remaining Summer

Summer is such a sweet time of year.

The days are longer, it’s beautiful out, (if it’s not raining or crazy hot!), and it’s a prime time for vacations.  It’s also a great time enjoy family and friends, and ideally even do some recalibrating.

At the same time, it’s not uncommon for nearly all of us to feel like summer goes by way too fast…with the pressures of fall perhaps looming already.

In order to help you make the most of the rest of your summer, here’s three important tips to embrace.  These tips are largely drawn a great interview with Senior Pastor Jon Cook, an engaging leader who pastors a stellar Hillsong church in Newcastle, UK.

Get Out There!

Summer is such an awesome time to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, and perhaps even get a bit in shape!  In talking with Jon about what’s important for pastors and leaders to perform consistently at a high level, he underscored the vital importance of time away to renew and connect with others.  Besides enjoying other outdoor sports, of late, Jon has started a habit of playing golf every week, which he finds especially important after an intense week!  He plays with a good friend. The chance to be outside, to enjoy the madness of playing golf, and delight in some banter with his buddy (or mate, as they say over here)  provides a great chance to relax and take his mind off work.

In that vein, I have to indulge. I just had the incredible experience of rowing in a two-man crew boat on the River Wear this past Monday evening.  It was so sweet to be out in nature on an idyllic English river, and enjoy the thrill (and intensity) of rowing. It was especially rich because I’ve been so inspired by the incredible story from “The Boys in the Boat,” a best-selling book about the 1936 eight man Olympic rowing team that won gold in the 1936 Olympics.  (It’s a great read…a great summer read at that!)

It was so much fun to take a stab at rowing, with the help of a competent coach. I left that evening feeling exhilarated and energized. Even just a short workout in the beauty of nature was renewing. It gave me a nice shot in the arm to embrace my calling on deeper levels.

When we can get outside and do something fun, especially in the company of people we enjoy, it instills gratitude and provides perspective, both of which are remarkably important to living well and leading well.

Embrace Life-Giving Friendships

Pastor Jon’s strongest recommendation for pastors in particular was the vital importance of life-giving friendships. Based on years of pastoring (including planting a church), he has been around a lot of pastors. Very consistent with my own experience, he has witnessed firsthand how many pastors and other leaders are chronically malnourished on the deeper friendship front, and are not enjoying the incredible gifts that authentic, transparent friendships bring.

As you may know from watching any scary movie (take any Jurassic Park movie), the most dangerous time for any character, is when they walk away from the group.  That is the prime time for the monster/dinosaur/enemy to take them out in some grizzly, strangely satisfying manner.

On the flip side, more and more of the social science research (including stellar research from books like “Social Intelligence” and “The Happiness Advantage”) point out, that by leaps and bounds, life-giving, genuine relationships are the greatest sources of the richest happiness.

Synergistic friendships are one of the greatest antidotes to the stress and isolation of leadership. As you embrace them, you are also modeling a real part of life to the full for those who struggle with moving towards greater intimacy.

The more relaxed pace of summertime provides an outstanding time to reconnect with old friends or make new friendships, such as around hobbies that are often easier to start in the summer.  One of my clients just signed up for group training for a half marathon, which he hopes will not only help him get in shape, but also create an opportunity to make some new friends.

Stop Being Busy Being Busy!

One of Pastor Jon’s other greatest wishes for Pastors and Christian leaders is a desire for them, in his words, “to stop being busy being busy.”  Being busy, especially when you are in a reactive, people-pleasing mode, is, unfortunately one of the best ways to bear the least amount of fruit.

When you’re too busy, it makes being strategic about investing in your own growth and the growth of other leaders nearly impossible, two things Jon says are crucial to leading well.

The summer time, with greater freedom in your schedule, is a great time to start putting new habits into your fall calendar by intentionally carving out time for your retreats, for your own growth, and for investing in your key leaders.

Consistent with Pastor Jon’s experience, leadership is the most rewarding, and we make the greatest Kingdom difference, when we are wisely investing time in our own growth and the growth of others.

That simply can’t happen when we are busy.

Wrapping Up

So, I hope and pray that in the precious remaining weeks of summer, that God will grant you the grace and courage to get out there, take some risks to embrace deeper friendships, and create some room in your schedule for some of the most important work you can do.

Have at it!