In some reading I was doing today I came across the notion that someone who has a sense of mission might shun hobbies. At first I thought that was ridiculous—what kind of overzealous nut would be so mission focused as to forgo all pleasure to fulfill it? Then I started to think about what kinds of people these might be, who are privileged to have this sense of mission. Missionaries maybe, who live in Africa and don’t really have the luxury of hobbies. Or maybe they’re corporate executives who were boring to begin with and are OK with working 24/7.
But then I realized that I have a sense of mission. Could it really be? All Christians do actually. Our primary mission is to know, love and serve God. And my secondary mission is to help teenagers come to know, love and serve God. That’s what my whole life is to be devoted to right now. So then should I shun my hobbies? What about all that stuff we hear about balance and taking time for oneself? and isn’t it important to keep myself happy so that I can be effective in fulfilling my mission?
I had the entire day off today, which for me, being in my second year of youth ministry at a huge church, is unheard of. Sure I checked my email 10 times and gave a little thought to tomorrow’s teaching, but I didn’t spend any serious chunks of time “working.” I slept in late, did some reading, some cooking, some scrapbooking. There were about 10 other things that I love to do that I could’ve done today too, but I didn’t. Because by the afternoon, II couldn’t stand the thought that I hadn’t spent any significant time working to fulfill my mission. I know; I’m a dork. But of course that’s not how it started out.
Initially I was just dissatisfied with everything I started to do and didn’t know why. I’d get a few pages of the scrapbook done and then get something to eat and then read a few pages of a book and then change my iPod playlist and then pick up a magazine… and none of it satisfied me. I was entirely discontent with whole day of indulgent laziness. I wanted to think about my mission. And I actually think it would’ve done me well to have taken a little “break” from my day off to “work.”
See, I’ve become aware over the last few months of what a radical faith looks like, and it’s infiltrated my sense of being. It’s not easy, and it’s not comfortable to live like Jesus. I can’t, with a good conscience, be who I was before. No, I’m not saying Jesus calls us to burnout or even necessarily to shun our hobbies. But He does call us to be mission conscious. He calls us to a 24/7 life of faith, and sometimes that life requires sacrifice. Of course it’ll involve times of prayer, retreat, Sabbath– times of escaping for communion with God. It may even allow room for a few hours of pursuing that beloved hobby. What I think I’m realizing though is that if we really love our mission and truly feel like we were made for it, escaping becomes unnecessary. When we say we need balance, I think sometimes what we mean is balance between what I want and what God wants. Here’s my give—now where’s my take? But maybe the luxury of a hobby is just that—a luxury. When I finally believe in my mission so thoroughly that it becomes who I am, fulfilling it isn’t work—whether it’s my source of income or not. Working towards fulfilling my God-given mission doesn’t tire me out—it energizes me.