What unprecedented times we are in. We’re told to stay home. Business are closed. Grocery stores are almost empty. And, as of this week, most schools in Tennessee are out until April 24th — if not later.
That’s 30 days.
That’s 720 hours.
That’s 43,200 minutes.
That’s 2,592,000 seconds.
I could keep going. But you get the point. Students, what will you will do with this time?
One of my favorite quotes is from Bob Darrah (Iowa Hall of Fame wrestling coach) who said, “You will always have pain in life but at least you get to choose between two kinds—the pain of self-discipline or the pain of regret. Choose well, but remember this. The pain of self-discipline lasts for a moment. The pain of regret lasts for the rest of your life.”
This season will eventually be over. What will you have done with this unique time? Below are a couple ideas.
- Develop a New Habit
A 2006 paper published by a Duke University researcher found that over 40% of our every day actions were not conscious, but habits.
Experts say that it takes anywhere from 21 to 66 days to develop a new habit. Well, smack dab in the middle of that range is 30 days. This is what you have been given. What a gift. So what can you do?
Wake up early. Develop a workout routine. Start eating healthier. Or maybe break the habit of hours playing Minecraft or Fortnite and begin your journey with one of the ideas below.
- Workout 30 minutes a day
Gyms are closed. Even going to parks is discouraged. But online home workout resources and apps have never been more available.
Worst case scenario, you can do a Murph (invented by the Navy Seals): Run one mile, do 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 air squats, and run another mile. Surely, you can do it in about 30 minutes!
- Read one chapter of the Bible a day
My pastor says that in times like these we need to glance at the internet and gaze on the Word.
Right now I am reading one chapter a day through the New Testament with my small group and students in our youth ministry.
It takes 5 minutes to read through one chapter. 5 minutes. And by just reading one chapter a day, you can get through the whole New Testament in a year.
If you you want to jump in with our plan you can find it here.
- Memorize one verse of the Bible a day
These days, so many facts about COVID-19 are being memorized and regurgitated. Did you know New York City alone has over 25,000 confirmed cases? Did you know each person will get $1,200 from the government in a stimulus package. Did you know that the malaria drug chloroquine can possibly cure COVID-19?
These facts aren’t evil to know. But what if we flipped the narrative. What if a new scripture was on our lips every day?
Did you know God’s word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path? Did you know God promises to never leave us or forsake us? Did you know that if God did not spare His own Son that He will not spare us either?
What if we used the time on our hands to hide God’s Word in our hearts like we never have before?
- Learn an instrument
In high school I learned how to play the guitar because of a good friend named Kevin, YouTube, and ultimate-guitar.com. Nowadays there are apps like “Yousician” that listen to you play and provide instant feedback.
- Become halfway fluent in a new language
I took 3 years of Spanish and somehow only remember hola, pantalones (pants) and bonjour… oh wait, that’s French.
But with the technology and resources available today, you can become fluent in a new language in only—are you sitting down?—60 days. Granted, that is working on it 8 hours a day, like a full-time job. Who has that kind of time? Oh wait. You do!
Even if you can’t give 8 hours a day to learning a new language, you could give a couple hours a day and be well on your way to mastering a whole other aspect of the human experience.
- Read a book (or 5)
There are so many excuses to not read:
- I don’t have time.
- I fall asleep when I read.
- I already read so much for school.
- Reading is boring.
- I’m a slow reader.
Well, most of those excuses are void in this time off school. And if I’m a slow reader resonates with you, check this out:*
If you read slowly, maybe 250 words per minute (like I do), that means:
- In one hour, you would read 15,000 words (nice!)
- The average book has 400 words per page
- So you would average 37.5 pages per hour (stick with me)
- If you read for one hour a day, you would read 1,125 pages in 30 days
- The average book is 200-250 pages
- That puts you at 5 books. In 30 days.
Even if you only got in 30 minutes of reading a day, that is still over 550 pages. That’s 2 books!
You can do this. You will never regret reading 30 minutes to an hour of a good book.
Here’s a list of 10 Books Every Teenager Should Read.
And here are a couple of my favorites:
- “Don’t Waste Your Life” — John Piper
- “The Pilgrim’s Progress” — John Bunyan
- “Just Do Something” — Kevin DeYoung
- “Counter Culture” — David Platt
- “The Reason for God” — Tim Keller
- “Crazy Love” — Francis Chan
- “Fearless” — Eric Blehm
*I got this from John Piper in his book, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals
- Replace complaining with encouragement
I have a crazy challenge for you. What if you went a whole day without complaining. Think you’re hot stuff? Try going one week without complaining.
In fact, what if you went the whole 30 days without complaining one time? It sounds crazy but did you know that it’s actually a command in the Bible to not complain?
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” — Philippians 2:14-15
But do you notice what it says at the end? When you don’t complain, you shine. You are a noticeably different and brighter person.
And imagine if you replaced all that complaining with encouraging someone. What an amazing light you would be! There is someone who has a harder situation than you. They need encouragement. Be that person.
- Learn a Unique Skill
Don’t buy the lie that some people are born with unique skills and others aren’t. There are definitely things that come easier to some than others but for the most part any skill someone currently has came with hours of intentional learning and practice.
I have a tendency to assume other people are always better than me. Funnier, more creative, more intelligent or more handy. This leads me to do nothing. I am afraid of failure so I never start. But everyone starts out rough. That is part of the process.
Do this: write down 5 things you would love to be able to do by the time you graduate high school.
Maybe it’s woodworking or craft coffee. Or maybe you would love to start your own web design company or master the Rubik’s cube. It could be memorizing Martin Luther King Jr’s speech or writing a short story or being a really good joke teller. Maybe it’s learning interior design or how to cook sushi. Or being really good at scuba diving or yodeling. Maybe you want to plant your own garden or run a marathon someday.
All I know is this: now is the time to try. How you live your days is how you live your life. Begin today.
- Start a letter writing movement. Write a letter to your teacher. Or a neighbor. Or your grandparents. Or the Governor.
I heard this idea from my pastor recently and I think it’s fantastic.
President George H.W. Bush accomplished much in his life—President of the United States, Ambassador to China, CIA Director, to name a few things—but what most set him apart were his letters. He wrote hundreds of letters throughout his life. World leaders, congressmen, his staff, visitors to the White House, his family, and even his rivals received a personal letter from him. What a legacy!
As people are isolated and alone in these times, what if we picked up a pen, paid for a stamp and began a movement of letter writing. Since there are a plethora of efficient ways to communicate with someone (text, snapchat, DMs, email), it makes receiving a hand-written letter all that more special.
What if you wrote one letter a day for the rest of your life. I bet your legacy would be one marked by encouragement and love.
Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
Rather than lamenting your situation, take advantage of it and leverage it for the Kingdom. Probably few will. But maybe some will. God will use you in this unique time.
“If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.”— Proverbs 24:10
“You say, ‘How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof!’” — Proverbs 5:12