Time to Play?

I've been praying and thinking a lot about play time. That may sound a little weird coming from a 39 year old... but I do. Play time is on my mind a lot because it's definitely something that I don't seem to have a lot of time for these days.

I'm a big believer in the Sabbath - the spiritual discipline of taking time off and resting and just enjoying God and life. But lately my Sabbath keeping has seemed to be either spent getting work done around the house or school work or catching up on stuff to do at the church. Now that I'm reflecting on it... I don't think I've honestly taken a Sabbath rest since our vacation in January. Not cool!

Now... I hear all about these pastors who have great play time. I hear about it in the conferences they speak at and in the books they write... and I can't help but wonder - is it just the big church guys who are able to pull this off? Is it when you finally have a huge staff that more play time becomes available? Is it when you have a Christian best-selling book that you have the money and time to have more play time?

When I talk to the pastors in the circles that I run in (and I admit... it's a pretty small circle) I get the sense that very few of them have a regular hobby or passion that recharges them. Is the small to mid-sized church pastor stuck in a pattern that we all know we shouldn't be in but have no clue how to get out of it?

I've been reevaluating how I spend my play time. Two things have hit me. And I say this JUST FOR ME - you are not allowed to use this to critic how someone else uses their spare time.

First, I've come to realize that video games are not a good play time for me. Because of my limited time I convinced myself a number of years ago that playing video games once everyone is asleep is a good use of my time and allows me to geek out and relax. Well... I've come to realize that video games in NO WAY help me relax. In fact, it's quite the opposite. They stress me out! I get frustrated and annoyed... they prevent me from getting a good night sleep... and they give me the false sense that I'm being refreshed. Some mornings I wake up even more tired than when I went to bed!

Second, I've come to realize the best play time for me is either something very quiet or interactive with other people. I love to quietly paint my little metal soldiers. I love a good social gathering of friends. I love to hear from God in the stillness. I love to experience God through the love and laughter of other people. A good balance of quiet play time and interaction with others is key for me. And the hobby time I've been doing doesn't hit either of those... they are usually loud and alone.

Even though I've been bad at keeping my Sabbath lately - I'm excited about what God has taught me in this time. And, even though I know it will be a struggle, I'm excited about this reevaluation of how to ensure a healthier play time in my life. I definitely don't have all the answers on this one... but I know that God does and he'll lead me through it!

How about you? Are you able to keep a healthy play time in your life? How do you balance it? Especially you pastors of small to mid-size churches, do you struggle in this as well? I'd love your feedback and suggestions on how to improve in this area!

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