Starting Strong

by on August 29, 2008

Another semester is upon us. For most students in general, and seminarians in particular, we all try to start the semester strong. Many, like myself, have learned from semesters past that at some point before final exams, we will fall behind in some aspect of our studies. In order to counteract this, many try to get a head start on reading and writing for their classes. This is all fine and good, but, if you are like me, you still find that you fall behind at some point in the semester. This is usually due to a myriad of problems which can include work, family, health, and, as is often my case, sheer laziness. How do you prolong the strong start to a strong finish? Better yet, how do you sustain a decent level of study throughout the entire semester?

Tips

What follows is a simple list of things I have found helpful to keep my moving along at a decent pace getting everything done on time and in a timely manner. Some semesters I do not do so well as others, but I strive to keep to the basics.

  1. Prayer – It may seem to simple, but it is truly refreshing and helps to keep everything in perspective. I have found that 15 “spontaneous” minutes alone with God is often times better than a 15 minute nap. Now, if you should fall asleep during your alone time with God, then great. However, that is never the goal. What I mean by spontaneous that it is unplanned in your day. We are spontaneous about so many other things, why not be so with the One who matters?
  2. Planned Time Off from School Work – I wish I could do this weekly (I am sure my wife does, too!), but most times I am not able to do this but every other week at the most. There are times where I actually block off an evening or even a weekend where I will not allow myself to do homework. I have discovered that this, too, is very refreshing.
  3. Play with your Kids (if you have any) – I have begun to play with my kids while doing my Greek homework or memorizing something for a class. The Greek is really fun because we have a resource here at SBTS where a former student had put things to song. Now, I sing the alphabet to Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and a not quite chart topping rendition of Amazing Greek that includes the noun case endings. Whenever I am memorizing a passage or something I will act as if I am doing a dramatic rendition of it with the kids. I have found that their natural tendency to distract me enables me to concentrate more on what I am doing. The kids love it, I get to spend time with them and I memorize quicker and better.
  4. Use your Spouse – By this I mean allow her to tell you when you need a break. Even more, listen to her or him! They usually know better than you do what you need!
  5. It will get done – Seriously, if you have a deadline to meet, you know the assignment will get done. This applies for school, ministry and work. Don’t be lazy about it, but you know that whatever it is, it will get done. The flip side to this is that when it is done, it will be finished.

These are just my thougths on how to stay start, and stay strong, during the semester. What thoughts do you have? We would love to hear how you stay strong throughout.

Comments

Thanks for these – good advice!
I’ve found that actually observing sabbath on the LORD’s day is wonderfully refreshing as well (imagine that 🙂 To have a guaranteed homework-free day to worship, rest, fellowship, and think on the things of God provides a rhythm and constancy that gets me through the week, and helps me stay focused on why I began these classes anyway. It’s true that Monday quizzes may suffer if I don’t work hard on Saturday, but I’ve found that having the sabbath is still worth it. Just a thought!

@ Melynda: I would have to agree with your thoughts on the Sabbath. The reason I did not include it is because (to my detriment) I use the Sabbath as a catch-up day for reading. Granted, the readings are centered on the Bible, but I am praying that God would help me to prioritize the rest of my time throughout the week so that I may use the Lord’s Day as the Day of Rest it is supposed to be (except that I am a children’s minister and I prep all week for that day!).