A colleague of mine was recently telling me how he is working with his church to develop a plan for his upcoming sabbatical. I asked him what his theme is going to be. He said that he didn’t know yet. He knew that he needed some rest and renewal, but he wanted to work with his church to figure out a theme that the congregation could invest in as well.
“What are some of the options?” I asked. He couldn’t quite say. Instead, he told me a story. He was hanging out with his wife and 4 year-old grandson, Alex, who saw that “RaRa” (the grandmother) was knitting. She told him all about the project she was working on. Then Alex said to my friend, “Poppi, what’s your project?” Poppi was quiet for a moment, so Alex gave his best guess at an answer. “Work?” Alex said. My friend couldn’t think of another reply.
Work was really the only “project” that came to mind. That is where he put the major bulk of his time, energy, and thought. He hadn’t done so regretfully; rather, his work had given him 36 years of challenging and fulfilling ministry. However, he also recognized an imbalance to his life. Apart from work and family he couldn’t confidently name any other sources of interest. “What activities bring you joy?” I asked. He wasn’t real sure.
I wondered if perhaps we had stumbled upon the perfect sabbatical theme: “Discerning Your Joys and Pursuing a Balanced life!” How valuable would he be, how useful to his congregation, if he could return from his break with a recipe for doing just that?! He’s certainly not alone in his workoholism, nor is he alone in having awakened to the fact that he had been inattentive to parts of his being. The need for balance in our lives is a common and continual reality. Clear methods for finding it, however, aren’t so common.
As we enter a new year, and perhaps a season for new resolutions, this conversation seemed like one we might consider. What brings you joy? What parts of yourself have you been inattentive to? What might you need to do, what might you add or sacrifice, to build a more balanced life? The answers may not immediately reveal themselves. Still, I expect that as we discuss the questions with friends, as we share them in prayer, we’ll get some ideas and guidance. Let me know what you discover!
Happy New Year