As the holiday comes to an end, with school starting just around the corner, what comes to your mind? I’ve been thinking about it for the past few days, here’s what’s been going through my mind:
- I have to wake up early again
- I’m starting year 12
- I’m going to be overloaded with work
- and I’ll need to need to get myself back together
Now, notice how they all begin with ‘I’? As human beings, it’s natural for us to only think about ourselves. But that doesn’t mean that it’s okay to do so. Because we are sinners, everything about us is corrupt (total depravity), and the only way out of it (or the only way to gain our salvation) is through Christ alone.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9.
Without our Creator, we are unable to find answers or rest while living in this world. So if our lives and hearts aren’t driven by the Creator’s purpose, our lives will have no meaning.
While we’re doing work, whether it’s schoolwork or ministry, we might ask, “What is my purpose?”, “Is this what God wants me to do?” or “How do I know what God wants me to do?”.
As our to-do lists start to get filled up again during this next term, I’d like to remind us about why we do what we do.
As Christian teenagers, we have a special calling to joyfully proclaim and serve Christ, and still fulfil our duties at school and at home (keyword: joyfully). Something important to keep in mind is that we need to do all our duties - we cannot only do ministry and expect God to be satisfied with our lives. From an extreme point of view, if we only do ministry, how will we expect to get a job without education? Or who will clean the house and make dinner?
A fruitful life is a life that is consistent and integrated. Yet, we are still sinners, and so some wrong reasons or attitudes are keeping us from living the ‘work’ life God had planned for us (by work, I mean school, ministry and housework).
Living a balanced and integrated life
As mentioned earlier, we must have a balanced and integrated life. Being a Christian doesn’t mean that we act all holy at church but we live totally different lives the moment we walk out the church door. So as we return back to school, it’s important to be grounded in Christ in all aspects of our lives. Even though we do schoolwork and ministry, we mustn’t neglect our housework, because that is our duty too. (Remembering that God won’t give you something to do if it isn’t doable).
Learning how to prioritise
Now you might ask, How do I get all of this done? We do this by setting our priorities. But first and foremost, it is essential that we first make sure that we are grounded in God’s Word and understand our calling as a student. When we are grounded in Christ, all the things we do are driven by the right purpose, and with God-given wisdom, we will know what to prioritise.
Day-to-day priorities will be different for everyone. Maybe for you, it’s based on deadlines or a to-do list. Or maybe what matters for you as a student is your schoolwork. As students, we are called to go to school and do complete schoolwork (to the best of our ability) like anyone else, but as Christians, we also have the calling to serve Christ. When we surrender and bring our struggles to God, He will guide us to be able to prioritise and accomplish our calling.
At first glance, perfectionism might not seem too bad — isn’t it right to do things to the best that you possibly could? But my question is, why do perfectionists do what they do? For some people, it’s for themselves to feel satisfied, but for others, it might be because of the desire to appear flawless before others. Either way, both these reasons are self-centred.
Deep down, perfectionism is driven by our pride. For me, perfectionism might be the one I relate to the most on this list. Perfectionism stops you from being able to cooperate with other people. Studies show that perfectionists have higher levels of stress, burnout and anxiety.
So how do we deal with pride and perfectionism? It doesn’t necessarily mean that we completely flip our lives upside down, and it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t strive for excellence. We must still aim to do our best in everything, remembering that we are doing this for God, and not ourselves.
You may or may not resonate with the struggles mentioned above, but I hope that as our to-do lists start filling up again, we stay grounded in Christ, remembering that no amount of ‘work’ we do will ever bring us salvation or true happiness. As God’s creations, we will only find the answers to life and true rest in Him.
“There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made know through Jesus Christ.” - Blaise Pascal