By now the new-car-smell on all the back to school gear is beginning to dissipate as the routine of another semester settles in. Many of you have no doubt re-mastered the art of hitting the snooze button on your phone or clock just the right amount of times and still able to ensure an on-time arrival at your local place of education. For some, it means the Friday night lights will burn bright again, for others an opportunity to play an instrument or join a campus club, and for others it simply means you begin the tiring task of checking off another semester. In any case, it’s all happening now. But maybe, just maybe mind you, therein lies the problem: it is happening.

Could it be that we have evolved into recipients who passively digest more information and engage in typical activities (i.e. football, bands, clubs) simply because, “Isn’t that what kids our age are supposed to do?” If that in any way resonates or makes sense, then it’s time to rebel from the norm and rage against the machine that is the average teenage high school experience. The following list gives 5 ways to do just that. These are born out of the conviction that grace demands more and never less. 

  • View education through the lens of calling. If the reformers were correct, and as followers of Jesus we are called to the church, society/citizenship, family, and vocation, then view your education as your vocation. Going to school is your job at this stage of the journey, therefore, do your job well! 
  • Value education as a piece in the overall puzzle of your personal development. Have a plan for your life that involves high school, as opposed to high school being the end all of your life. In other words, allow yourself to realize that high school is only a chapter in the narrative that is your life, but live as if high school was the entire story itself. 
  • Refuse a passive approach, and be an active participant everyday. At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, this is your life! And while there are aspects of your life that are outside of your control, there are boatloads within your control. You may not control where you go to school, but you control what thoughts you think, your friends, and your attitude, how you manage your time, entertainment, and the list could go on and on. The point is, we often times have more control over our lives than we are willing to admit. If we shoulder the burden of responsibility for our own lives, then we become passive, but if we see ourselves as stewards our lives and time and friends, then we become active participants. 
  • Be your own greatest teacher, a pilgrim that is prepared. A spirit of humility combined with a hunger to grow and learn is a powerful thing to behold in a student. You see, the students with the right attitude and the right desires become their own greatest teachers because their lives are a quest towards God’s desired will. Those are the students who realize we are pilgrims on a long journey towards the Celestial City, and to go on a journey one must be prepared for that journey.  
  • Don’t live up to someone else’s expectation of someone else. A friend of mine used to tell me, “You’re not one in a million, you are one in a creation.” At first I thought it was just cliché “gobbledygook”, but in more recent years I have come to believe it’s just good theology. God has uniquely created you, therefore an attempt to be someone else is to cheapen you.

In short, this school year is happening and will continue to do so. There will be Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Summer break (sorry, I know I left a few out) and we will be right back here, in this same place, feeling the same way again. So, the decision before all of us is simple. We can paint by number this school year, like so many others that just allow high school to happen, or we can rise above the norm of color schemes and corresponding numbers to create a masterpiece to be laid at the feet of King Jesus.

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