Activities and Hobbies
We have looked at physical possessions and entertainment so far and their effect on our spiritual walk with God. The amount of time and energy we spend on these two areas will help dictate whether we stay in balance with God or find ourselves outside the path He has set for us. Today we shift focus to another area of our lives that has the potential to pull us out of balance with God.
Activities and Hobbies. Those two words sound harmless. They are great ways to relax and find respite from a difficult week or just to find simple pleasures outside of the normal pursuits of life. A lot of people find that getting a good activity or hobby outside of regular daily routine helps them to recharge and get reinvigorated, even with their spiritual pursuits. Pastors and ministry leaders often talk about having an activity to get away from the day-to-day task so as to not get burnt out. Sometimes, taking a step back is a good thing.
However, just as with physical possessions and entertainment, the tendency for many is to get sucked into the activity/hobby and let it become a lifestyle. Hunting and fishing are great opportunities to get away (and even have alone time with God). However, hunting and fishing have a high tendency of replacing our Sunday worship time. It’s the one day that a lot of hard working men get off and they choose to head to nature rather than the altar. Cooking is fun, but taking baking and cooking classes rather than attending midweek Bible Studies is a trend as well. For younger people, dance recitals and sports take the place of midweek youth services. These are just a few examples, but it is clear that hobbies and activities have the tendency to compete with and take the place of our pursuits of Christ.
1. Subtract Hobbies That Subtract God
So what is the solution? There are two actions. First, we must schedule our activities and hobbies around God and our pursuits of Him. If an activity requires we miss church, it’s not worth pursuing. If a hobby causes us to abandon reading our Bible, it needs to be abandoned. If either hurts our pursuit of the cause Christ has given us, we must shed it from our lives.
That’s easier said than done, though. For many of us, we’ve invested a lot of time, money and energy into these activities and hobbies. That’s familiar to entertainment and physical possessions, however, there is an extra element to activities and hobbies that makes it difficult. These two things aren’t just an item or a moment in time. They are a part of who we are. We identify ourselves as hunters, fishermen, chefs, dancers, athletes, etc. when we take on those hobbies and activities in our lives. It’s difficult to shed a part of our identity, especially one that inspires the passion that a favorite hobby or activity does. However, when weighed against the cause of Christ and our relationship with God (the ultimate identity), we must make the tough decision. If we have trouble, the book of Ecclesiastes helps to put this life into perspective:
Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. (1:2)
2. From Removal To Repurposing
Once we've cut the fat on those activities and hobbies that regularly take us away from godly pursuits and relationship, what can we do with those that remain? Will they end up in same boat as those we've just given up? After all, it seems with the pursuits of this life, it's only a matter of time before they creep into dangerous territory.
The second part of our solution will give many of our readers a sigh of relief. We can shore up these activities and hobbies that remain by adding God into them. I mentioned earlier how some hunters will spend their time waiting by reading the Bible and meditating on God. Fishermen do the same. Some young women have take dance techniques they have learned and put together creative worship sets for their churches. Artists have painted murals that liven up their youth rooms. Writers use their talents to create devotions. Athletes hold prayer meetings and teach non Christian teammates Bible Studies. Aspiring chefs hold baking parties that also work as prayer meetings and God talking points. It's not hard to integrate God into these activities and hobbies. God is a part of our identity and these activities often make up our identity. If we prioritize God as the primary identifier in our lives, He'll conform those activities and hobbies in our lives to fulfill His purpose. We might even find that the activity and hobby we love so much is a part of that purpose God has put in us. We just have to trust that God will lead us in what to keep and what to discard as we further subtract from ourselves so as to gain in Him. Remember these words as you examine your activities and hobbies this week and look to implement these two solutions:
And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father (Colossians 3:17)
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.