Big Ideas & 'Best Of'The Campus Minister

Why July Might Be the Best Month to Take Any Remaining Vacation Time You Have

When I think of July, I think of this…

That’s not me — and I’ve never been to this location — but it’s still what I think of when I think of July.

Why?

Well, for starters it’s typically so hot and steamy here in the greater Nashville area that if I’m outside I prefer to be someplace wet — where I can actually enjoy being outside.

But I also like the peace and relaxation this image evokes. It speaks of a slower pace of life, and inner rest, that I don’t think enough of us experience very often.

So a few years back — probably around the time our eldest was experiencing his first summer break from school — my wife suggested that I take some extra time at home during the summer.

Actually, she probably said something like, “Hey! What do you mean you don’t get summers off? The kids do. That doesn’t seem right. Do you need any work done around the office — something a 6-year old or 4-year old might be able to do?”

All joking aside, I began to think about how best I might use my summer months — and whatever vacation time I still had — to be at home with my family as much as I possibly could.

The school year is crazy and full — plus half of our kids are in school — so vacation during the academic year (besides the normal holidays and such) doesn’t seem practical.

The summer, on the other hand, is much quieter on campus — as well as much noisier at home (5 kids make A LOT of noise when they’re in the same general vicinity — or at least ours do).

So as I looked at my summer months, I tended to see them this way:

May was a time for concluding the school year with graduation celebrations, good-byes, and evaluating the year of ministry on campus that we experienced. And over the past couple of years May also become a time to do some writing. What I’ve learned is that it can be challenging to shift from high gear to low gear — and so May becomes a month of down-shifting. Still productive in many ways — but with students gone, the pace of life beings to move slower and projects become considerably easier to knock out with only minimal interruption.

June is a month for re-engaging with students — specifically incoming students. Three of the four weeks of this month are filled with summer orientation on our campus — six rounds of first year students and two rounds of transfers. Needless to say, by the end of the month I have more than exceeded my word limit for the month — not to mention the summer as a whole.

And then there’s August. When the calendar page flips from July to August it’s as if the boulder from Indiana Jones is released somewhere in the distance — and I can tell it’s heading my way. August 1st tends to begin a countdown (in earnest) until student leaders (and then new and finally returning students) make their way back to campus. There is little, if anything, that is peaceful and relaxing about the month of August. Work levels and adrenaline levels both sky-rocket — and the start of a new academic year is now inevitable.

This leaves us with July. Strategically placed on the heals of our new student orientation, and just before the boulder drops on August 1st, July has become the time when use whatever vacation time I have left in my personal que (which resets in August) — and I get to be home enjoying some of the best days of the summer with my family. It’s amazing how many Mondays and Fridays I’m able to squeeze out of what remains — and how invigorating four-day weekends can be!

I’m not sure where you find yourself as the month of July begins — but if you’re the kind of person that has a growing number of vacation days on the books, might I suggest unloading a bunch of them this month — as we experience the proverbial calm before the storm.