Having grown up in the midwest, I’ve had the benefit of living in a “4 season” region my entire life. Now, I will say, those seasons tend to blend at times, but overall, there are still 4. Moving to the mountains I have learned that the seasons blend a bit more, and sometimes it takes Spring a few tries to actually present itself, but eventually, it arrives.
Over the years I’ve observed a lot of celebrations around the season of Spring. The celebration of shedding the coats, green grass, new life springing up everywhere, it’s a time where is seems people are more cheerful, and of course, Easter makes for something fun to look forward to.
On a college campus, Spring has a different vibe. Over the past few years, I’ve noticed an even stronger trend. Yes, there is the joy of warmth, more activity on campus as students wander out of the dorms for more than class and food. But there is also this sense of panic. Perhaps it is the fact that the semester seems to fly by, or perhaps is the fact that the syllabus given in January hasn’t been looked at since then, and now with spring break behind us there is a lot of classwork to be done. I’m not really sure there is a logical reason for the spring panic, but it is present just the same.
With summer looming coaches are given a chance for spring practices. For our family, that means Coach is again gone several nights a week at practice or meetings, but we don’t have the games on the weekends. For spring sports it seems to be a race against the calendar to squeeze in games around the weather and field conditions. At the same time, classes are continuing, and student activities are still present.
On the ministry side of things, I find that Spring holds 2 different scenarios:
1) Students who have been engaged and going all year long generally hit a wall. They are emotionally stretched, tired of all they have committed to, and realizing they need to focus on finished the semester well.
2) Students who have been tiptoeing around the fringes all year seem to come alive. Mid-February seems to be the point where enough face time has been done, and trust is won over. All of a sudden there is new energy flooding into the spaces of ministry and time.
This can be positive, a natural passing of the torch is created. Students can carry each other along and as the year goes on memories are made, classes are finished, sporting events attended win or lose, and everyone is sent off for the summer.
As a leader I find spring to be a challenge. There is the need and desire to press into those students who you have been pouring into all year. Those first cracks of trust bursting through can be the reminder of why we work so hard in the first place at being consistent and present. At the same time, it is so important to allow people to finish well. This is where I feel weak. How do you cheerlead those who have hit the wall of exhaustion (a wall of their own making mostly due to refusing to pace themselves) and at the same time usher in new energy?
Transitions and change are things that most people run from. Finishing Strong, Running the Race with endurance until the end is rare action these days. In a time where we are encouraged to just let people be who they are, not do things that are hard or make us stretch, how do we keep our students engaged in their commitments until the end?
The challenge of Spring is that Summer is around the corner and when you know rest is waiting, how do you dig deep and embrace the present season you are sitting in?