I was so excited when my fellow young writer, Isabella, mentioned her idea to start a blog for Christians in public school. Although my entire K-12 experience was in homeschool, I am now transitioning to life at a public university. In light of this, I was curious what advice Isabella had to share as a public school veteran going into her sophomore year of high school.
From the time I’ve spent frantically googling, I know that resources for Christians in any kind of secular school are so needed. Isabella’s experience is extremely valuable, and I’m grateful that she is taking the time to write about it and share her wisdom with her peers.
No matter what kind of student you are, Isabella’s top five tips are here to help you start school with the right perspective. If you enjoy her writing and are looking for more resources for Christians in public school, I hope you’ll give her blog a look at thepublicschooledchristian.com.
5 Ways to Make the Most of This School Year | A Guest Post by Isabella Daou
The school year has started once again. And I want this year to be the best yet. I want to live intentionally in school and serve Jesus.
You see, school has a purpose. Its main purpose is probably not the one you’re thinking of, though—to learn. Like all other things, school’s purpose is actually to glorify God.
Learning glorifies God. Building good relationships glorifies God. Sharing the gospel, showing love to our classmates, and even completing our school work glorifies God.
School will be amazing in some ways, and hard in other ways. But whatever trials, stressors, or difficult situations arise, our God helps us get through them. Are you excited for this school year? Here are 5 tips to make the most of the year.
#1: Surround yourself with Christ-like people.
I often find myself unintentionally copying things my friends do. Some are good things, some are bad. One of my friends almost always inserts the word “like” into her sentences, and I find myself saying “like” a lot when I’m around her. Another one of my friends started asking me for prayer requests, and now I ask my friends for prayer requests on a more regular basis. If my friends dress nicely when we go out, I’ll dress nicely, too. If they dress casually, I’ll wear shorts and a t-shirt. If they exercise and eat healthily, it encourages me to do the same—and so on.
The point is this: our friends influence us. They’re who we spend the most time around and pour the most energy into. And because of that, they affect us the most.
Who are your friends?
Since we often copy the habits of our friends, our inner circle of friends should be people who will bring us closer to Christ. If you find your identity in Christ but your buddies find their identity in the world, your life will be fundamentally different from theirs. You will value different things, spend your time in different ways, and make different decisions. You will be separate from your friends.
Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times.” Are your friends loving? We should surround ourselves with people who demonstrate Christ’s love.
Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Are your friends sharpening you? Are you closer to God because of them or do they draw you away from Christ?
Maybe you’ve found good friends who sharpen you, like Proverbs 27:17 says, at school. Maybe these close friends are from church. Maybe they’re your family. Either way, friends like this keep you grounded in Christ and walk in faith alongside you.
That being said, Christians shouldn’t be our only friends. We should make friends with nonbelievers, too—because Jesus commanded us to love everyone.
But Christian friends should be the ones we trust and lean on. They are the ones who will give us biblical advice in trying times, even when that advice is not what we want to hear. Good community keeps us grounded so that when the storms of life come, we can depend on trustworthy, God-fearing people.
#2: Get enough rest.
God rested on the 7th day of creation for a reason: rest is good.
He also created the Sabbath for a reason; the same reason: rest is good.
It’s hard to name all of the things rest does for us. We can better glorify God when we’re well rested because we work more efficiently, we have more creativity, and we can interact with others more and more meaningfully. We do better on our schoolwork when we’re well rested, too.
During the school year, it can be hard to get enough rest. We have school, homework, and extracurricular activities—on top of spending time with God, friends, and family.
Rest can be especially hard to come by if we procrastinate. Staying up late to finish our homework that we could have done earlier is something that happens too much for a lot of students.
Procrastination is almost never a good idea. It takes away rest, because we spend time on mostly unimportant things so we can push off something that is important. We’ll still have to do the important thing, but we spend precious time on other things that don’t matter as much.
And if we stay up late to finish work, we’re tired and can’t do as much the next day—which often leads to a cycle of not getting our work done, staying up late to finish it, and losing rest time.
Working hard and getting our work done in time allows us to rest well. But we also need to be careful that we don’t overwork ourselves, because the intended effect doesn’t happen—we’re actually able to work less because we have less energy. Rest, if we get enough of it, will replenish our energy.
Giving myself enough rest is something I struggle with. I get burnt-out far too often—and it’s my own fault for piling too many things on my plate. When I don’t rest enough, I get grumpy, and therefore, I’m less loving and kind, and I don’t glorify God as much.
I’m going to try to give myself enough rest this year, because I want to have the energy to love others well and live for Jesus.
#3: Push yourself outside of your comfort zone.
In the Bible, so many incredible things happen when people push themselves outside of their comfort zones. Moses, who was afraid of speaking in front of people, pushed himself to obey God and became the leader of a nation. David slung a stone at a towering giant—something that was probably outside of his comfort zone. And don’t you think it would have been uncomfortable for some of the apostles to speak the gospel in front of crowds?
Because these people stepped out of their comfort zones, Moses led the Israelites out of slavery, David killed the giant, and the apostles spread the gospel throughout the world. These people all relied on Jesus when they did hard things. They may not have been able to do what they did if God hadn’t been with them.
God will often ask us to step outside of our comfort zones. The Holy Spirit usually draws us to do hard things, not easy ones.
Here’s what I mean by going outside of your comfort zone: talking to that girl who is standing alone while you’re waiting in the car rider line at school. Making friends with your teacher even though you’re not experienced with talking to adults. Finishing your homework even when it seems way too hard to complete. Sharing the gospel with that boy you’ve been talking to in science class.
All of these things glorify God. The hardest things often do.
Plan a way you’re going to step out of your comfort zone. Doing something hard for God’s glory takes intentionality and God’s leading.
Taking a new step to glorify God is scary… but worth it.
#4: Manage your time well.
I can’t always find time to do everything I want to once school starts. My days become very structured, with school in the morning and mid-afternoon, and sports practice or church in the evening. Plus, I want to have time to spend with my family and friends. That doesn’t leave much space left in my schedule.
Between school, sports, homework, friends, creative pursuits, and God, often, one thing gets pushed out. Maybe we start slacking on our homework. Maybe we lose relationships with some people because we feel unable to invest in them. Maybe we push our God-time off to the side.
There are times when too much is on our plate and we can’t control it, but there are also times when a lot of our problems can be fixed by better time management.
A task will usually fill up the time you give yourself to do it. If I say that I’m going to finish my homework within 2 hours, then often, I will—but I don’t always need that much time. If I say that I’m going to finish it in 1 hour and 15 minutes, and I work to meet that time restraint, I finish much quicker—and then I’ll have time to spend on other things, like writing this post.
I beg you one thing, though: no matter how little time you have, don’t push God to the side. He is worth more than anything else.
Most of the things on your to-do list will have a temporary effect. But God is eternal.
#5: Focus on Jesus.
If, during the school year, you surround yourself with good friends, get enough rest, push yourself outside of your comfort zone, and manage your time well, that’s good. But it means nothing if it’s not for Jesus and because of Jesus.
We need to focus on Christ above all else because He is the only one who matters. He is the one we should be living for. Jesus isn’t just the door to Heaven, He’s the prize in Heaven.
When you’re feeling stressed because of school’s busyness, open your Bible. When you’re put in a difficult situation at school, pray. When you’re confronted with an idea that’s contrary to Christianity, look up what the Bible says about it. When you feel lonely, know that you have a friend in Jesus.
Reading my Bible and praying every morning helps me focus on Jesus. It sets the tone for the day and keeps my mind on God’s truth. Throughout the day, though, I still have to continue to remind myself of what God’s Word says.
Setting challenges for a certain way I’m going to serve Jesus also helps me focus on Him. Maybe, on a particular day, I want to pray without ceasing. I’ll focus on that goal throughout the day, and end up praying more, which sets my gaze on Jesus. Some days, I plan to share the gospel with someone or show Christ’s light in a situation I know is coming. When I know something hard like this is ahead of me, it helps me lean on Jesus even more.
One more thing that helps me focus on Jesus is having gospel-centered conversations with my friends. Usually, this means talking to one of my best friends about struggles we’ve been going through and praying for each other. It could also mean talking to a nonbeliever about religion or going to church and talking to your small group, if you have one. Conversations about Jesus will flow out of your love for Him and help you focus on Christ.
If God is your focus and your foundation, you will not stumble. It’s when we take our eyes off of God that we stray.
Every good thing points to Jesus. Nature, Christ-like friends, learning, family… every good thing should remind us of Him. Set your gaze on Him.
School is hard, but through it, we can glorify God. This year, surround yourself with Christ-like people, get enough rest, push yourself out of your comfort zone, manage your time well and, above all, focus on Jesus. God is worthy of all the glory and honor we can give Him through our school years. Will you use this time to serve Him?
About the author
Isabella Daou is a 15-year-old writer who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her family. She writes to glorify Jesus, who she fell in love with a couple of years ago. When she’s not writing, you can find her swimming, spending time with family and friends, or reading a good book.
For more, check out her blog, The Public-Schooled Christian. You also won’t want to miss her next guest post, “Dear Public-Schooled Christian, You Are Not Alone.” Find it on August 31st at annakatewrites.wordpress.com.