Is leisure time important? Definitely. God gives it a high priority, and so should we.
Hard work is a virtue, but only when it is balanced by leisure. Leisure is part of God's agenda for us, part of our becoming what and who God wants us to be. That takes planning.
Without sufficient leisure time, we will miss out on much
that God has for us. Are you missing out on "smelling the
flowers"? Are your children growing up without you? Have you and
your spouse grown apart without even realizing it? Do you have
time for enjoying your relationship with your aging parents? Do
you have the freedom to take time off periodically to just waste
time at home or in the yard? Have you taken the opportunity to
get to know yourself lately? If not, explore with me the
wonderful world of planning for leisure—God's way.
First, we need to know what leisure is, and then we can learn how to plan for it. Put simply, leisure is fun. To develop your plan for leisure, consider activities that add variety to your life and to your relationships. You need to know what represents a balance between your work life, your family life, and your devotional life. You need time to relax and recharge your batteries—so that you can be most productive in accomplishing the main mission.
How do you contend with all the pressures of life that tend to distract or prevent you from having sufficient time to relax and enjoy God's creation?
The key is a balanced devotional life. If you do not have a regular daily plan for spending time with God—in His word and in prayer—you are not likely to strike a Godly balance in other areas of your life—including leisure time.
You need to plan for short-range balance in your life, by beginning to incorporate leisure. How you do this will vary greatly depending on your marital status, your age, whether you have children and what their ages are, your social status and your interests. You will probably need to consider the recreational needs of those around you. Chances are that at least some of your leisure activities will involve other people.
By short-range, I really mean a beginning—what you can do now, and tomorrow and next week—to get started. If you are a workaholic, you may have to struggle with attitude before you can even approach decision-making. You can know intellectually that there should be time for leisure, and still not feel the need. God may have to convict you of your disobedience before you are willing to change your behavior. Here again, balance in your devotional life will likely be the difference between knowing what you should do, and actually doing it.
On the other hand, you may not be a workaholic, but the demands of your job may seem to leave no room for leisure time. You want to relax and spend time away from your job, but you do not know how to get away from it. If that is the case, you also need to change your attitude. You have not focused on the fact that God has a plan for you that includes balance. You may need to relinquish your job to Him. You may need to be willing to give your job up. He may or may not take it, but you need to be willing to let Him take it.
In either case, you need motivation. You need to be motivated to build leisure time into your life. If you don't do it because God wants you to, you may be forced to do it through much more painful means. Broken marriages, rebellious children, illness, loss of health, depression and suicide are often traceable to failure to find time to relax. Do not let that be your lot in life.
Just being willing to make leisure time a priority is more
than half the battle. The rest is just a matter of planning and
If you are married, by all means seek the counsel of your spouse. If you have children, get their input. Not only will you discover some unmet needs of theirs that are related to your leisure time, but you will likely get some insight into your own unmet needs.
Make a list of all the things you would like to do, or think you might like to do in your leisure time. Assume you have as much free time as you could possibly fill. Then fantasize.
Counting the Cost
I was probably very close to being a workaholic both as a lawyer and later as head of a Christian ministry. I so loved what I did that I had little desire to do anything else. I would work from early in the morning to late at night, absorbed in pursuing my vision for Christian Stewardship Ministries.
Then I began to notice little things my wife would say. Did we have to go out so often? When would I have time to get some things done around the house? Did I think our yard would ever be as nice as our neighbor's? But, in fact, I enjoyed going out, and I had no desire to work around the house or in the yard. But I did listen. And then I prayed. And then I listened to God. And then I saw my attitude changing. And then I began making lists. And you know what? I discovered that a lot of the things I thought I did not want to do were really things I just had no time for.
Now I actually enjoy cutting the grass and seeding and fertilizing and trimming. And I am at least willing to take a look at building a foundation for a new shed, and helping Pat paint—not overly enthusiastic, mind you, but willing.
Setting Aside Time
Do you know how to anticipate a date with your wife? Can you anticipate a fishing trip? Not without planning.
If you have a family, find out when you might spend some time with each member during the week. You might set aside Tuesday and Thursday evenings for time with the kids. They could decide how to spend it each week. Friday or Saturday night might be a good time to go out with your spouse. Husbands, this is a great way to strengthen your marriage, even if you do not go anywhere. If your wife knows it is her night, she will likely be a different person.
Now if all this time with family does not sound like leisure time, then maybe it will not be—for you. But it may very well be God's plan for leisure time for your family. They may need you in order to enjoy their leisure time.
You may need to plan your own leisure time, away from the family. Whether it is an evening out weekly, or a fishing trip a couple of times a year, you need to plan to do things that you can anticipate. You need to be able to look forward to things that will take the pressure off.
Develop a long-range plan to do the things you want to do. Plan trips and vacations for enough ahead of time that you can accumulate the money in advance. Pay all cash and see how much more fun it is to spend what you have saved than to worry about how you will pay for your fun after the fact.
Do the things that you know God wants you to do, or that are consistent with His will. Avoid doing those things that you know or suspect are not consistent with His will. Do not overly spiritualize your approach to planning leisure time. Certainly everything we do needs to be glorifying to God, but our leisure activities can also be lots of fun, too.
I actually wonder at times whether I have gotten lazy. I still work a lot, and I still love my job, but I have learned to enjoy things outside of my job. There is much more variety to my life than there used to be.
Of course, the older I get, the easier it is to make me
happy. Leisure time for me this afternoon will be playing with
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Improving Our Leisure Time
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