Some Fresh Determination
Using the summer holiday to increase our determination
by Tim and Vicky Scott (revised, originally published in 2009)
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To encourage us to use the summer holiday so that we approach school with fresh determination on our return.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a bottle of Lucozade or water and a Bible.
- Have available an image of a crowd cheering on marathon runners and the means to display it during the assembly. Examples are available at: https://tinyurl.com/y7akhhyr and https://tinyurl.com/ycu6mvbj
- Show the bottle of Lucozade or water, the Bible and the image of a crowd cheering on marathon runners.
Ask the students which item is the odd one out. Actually, it’s a trick question: the Bible may seem to be the odd one out, but it’s not. There is no odd one out because all three offer help to those who are running a race. The drink bottle and cheering crowd offer physical and psychological help to runners, and the Bible offers spiritual help in a different sort of race. It has much to say to encourage us along the way - especially to help us persevere during tough times - and points the way to finding new energy for living life abundantly.
- We can picture our whole lives ahead of us as a marathon, the race of life.
– While training for a marathon, athletes will begin with shorter practice runs, working their way up to longer distances. The school year that has just passed has been part of the race of life; the school year that starts after the summer holiday will be the continuation of the race. In this coming year, we will all be in training for our future years at school, and for the longer distance of our working life.
– Running a race involves taking one step at a time. We have already made progress in past years, even if it sometimes feels like progress is slow and difficult. Every day is one step forward.
– When athletes are running a race, they can reach a point where they are tempted to give up because they hit the wall physically. This can happen when their energy levels are low and they have lost their focus on reaching the finishing line. Some of us have worked hard this year and we are ready for a holiday, a time to recuperate and rest, a time to prepare ourselves for the coming year. Some of us may not have put so much effort into working hard, but during the summer holiday, we have time to think and to make a new resolution. Like athletes in a marathon, when we hit the wall and everything seems to go wrong, we can be determined to do the best we can, stay focused and keep going.
- Surveys of top performers in various fields, including musicians, athletes, sculptors, mathematicians, physicians, actors, artists, scholars and chief executives suggest that it is drive and determination, rather than talent, that plays a large role in their success. This shows the importance of simply sticking at it. Anybody who ever did anything worthwhile has this quality. It is known as determination or perseverance.
- As we break up for the holidays and have time to review the year that has passed, let’s think about our futures. Let’s return to school with a fresh determination to persevere, work harder and do the best we can.
- Developing perseverance is like a gardener growing a beautiful flower: it must be cultivated. The initial step to cultivating perseverance is to eliminate two of its greatest enemies (rather like a gardener using weedkiller and slug pellets to keep away the pests).
The first enemy of perseverance is a lifestyle of giving up. Perhaps some of us have given up on trying to do better this year. Be encouraged by those who - through determination and perseverance - have achieved great things, even when others might have written them off.
The second enemy of perseverance is the belief that life should be easy. The fact is that life is difficult at times. Each of us will face sadness, failure and trial as well as times of great happiness and success.
Time for reflection
As we start the summer holiday, let’s be determined that we will use the time to motivate ourselves to return to school ready to work hard and get the most out of the coming year. If we are starting new colleges or moving schools, let’s enjoy the fresh start and all the opportunities for development that this brings.
Let’s have a great holiday and enjoy some rest and recuperation. Let’s also take a moment to consider how we will behave in the new term - and come back with a new de-term-ination!
A verse in the Bible says,‘We will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.’ (Galatians 6.9)
Simply by sticking at something and doing our best, we can ‘reap at harvest time’, whether that means a harvest of better exam results, or a harvest of improved relationships with those around us.
Use the summer holiday to determine what ‘harvest’ you would like to work for in the year ahead.
Lord, thank you that you never give up on us.
Please help us never to give up on doing the things
That you want us to do with our lives.
Help us to persevere in our studies
And to be determined to do the best we can.
Please help us to have a fantastic summer holiday.
‘Here comes the sun’ by the Beatles. A version (3.13 minutes long) is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgiQD56eWDk
‘Summer holiday’ by Cliff Richard and The Shadows. A version (2.17 minutes long) is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbNP5yqg7hc