Do you remember the energy and excitement you experienced at the beginning of a new school year? I imagine not everyone shared that excitement. But I always enjoyed the optimism, hope and adventure the new school year provided. In high school, one of my favorite days leading up to school was learning my schedule for the coming semester and who I was with in class! Beginnings typically bring renewed energy and focus. They also allow us to evaluate where we want to go and what growth we most hope to experience.

While our school days may be behind us, a deeper invitation remains for all of us. As we all begin a new “fall semester,” I invite you to enter this season with intention and spend time reflecting on how your spirit may be longing to grow in this next season of life and faith. I believe as people of faith, we express and grow in our faith in five distinct ways: worship, study/prayer, fellowship, service and generosity. Through these opportunities for connection, we experience a faithful life.

I like to think of these five buckets as if they make up an investment portfolio. We want to work toward a balanced portfolio, so our long- term life of faith is diverse and grounded in the richness found through each pathway. For instance, your portfolio is not balanced if you study the scriptures once a week but never worship or exercise generosity. Likewise, if we are not intentional, our life and faith can get out of balance.

I want to invite you to find 15 minutes to reflect, listen and pray. It can be as simple as sitting in silence, going for a walk or praying. I find the modality less important than the intention behind it, for it seems giving the soul space to speak always reveals a longing we have known but rarely named. So, following those 15 minutes, I would encourage you to jot down the inner rumblings of the Spirit.

Blessings on the many new beginnings, for the journey ahead and for deeper expressions of life and faith that await us all.

Rev. Matthew Ruffner is the Senior Pastor at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church. He is husband to Sarah Ruffner and a father of two. You can follow Matthew on Instagram at @thisismatthewruffner and visit to watch the church’s live stream and listen to sermons.