What if you had an entire month off from your regular duties? Sounds wonderful, right? But what would you do if you had so much time on your hands?
Thanks to an amazing church and an even more amazing God, I’m taking a sabbatical this month. This all came about after following the example of a very good friend and mentor who’s been doing this for a couple of years now. It’s been amazing!!!!
But what would you do if you were in such a position? Would you go to the beach? Follow your favorite band? Go camping? Sleep in until noon everyday?
By now you’re probably trying to figure out how to take a sabbatical yourself, or punching your computer screen :-). While this is all new to me and I haven’t thoroughly researched it, here is a question that is shaping the way I’ve been spending my time.
That’s it, end of post, caput, we’re done, have a great week. Just kidding.
When it seems like we have all of the time in the world, we can make the mistake of thinking any road will get us to our destination. You know the adage, ‘All roads lead to Rome’. That may be true if you have all the time in the world, however, even a Honey Bee knows the shortest distance between two points is a straight line
Lets face it, it’s easy to lose your bearings, especially if you have no compass to help you get back on track. I learned that when hunting in the Adirondacks about ten years back. An enjoyable traipse in the woods turned into aimless wandering in a Cedar swamp. Every way looked right! Needless to say, I’m glad I finally got my bearings after an hour or so. Otherwise, it would have been a cold, dark night. The same principle applies in decision making. Without a compass, you may be doomed. That’s the reason ‘why’ is such a good question.
For example, if you take a month off and have lots of free time, ‘why?’ is a powerful question to help figure out the way you structure your time. It becomes a filter through which you funnel all of your decisions. Otherwise, if you intend to go nowhere, you’ll get there every time.
So, if you take a month off, with the goal of resting, here’s how it works. Rather than focusing on ‘what’ you plan to do, ask yourself ‘why’ you’re going to do it. Is volunteering for a week going to help you achieve your goal of rest? In some cases, yes! Volunteerism is a beautiful thing. However, in some cases, no. Especially if you volunteer actively throughout the year.
Here’s another example. You decide to take a month off to reconnect with old friends. Great idea! However, if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, don’t wait to ask yourself ‘why?’.
When you ask ‘why?’, you’re forced to examine your motives. If you’re not careful, you can even find yourself doing a lot of good things, for the wrong reason. Good things aren’t bad, but they can keep you from reaching your goals and accomplishing your dreams. Especially when you have such a limited amount of time.
For example, maybe you’re thinking about going back to school. Great! But why? What’s driving you to do it. Are you looking to become all that you can be or is it just going to be another feather in your cap? Imagine spending years doing something that was never a good decision to begin with. Nobody wants to be the guy running toward the wrong end zone with the football.
By now you can see the reason ‘why?’ is such a powerful question. ‘Why?’ has the power to help you cut through the fog, guilt and confusion. I’ll tell you right now, if you decide to take an extended time off, there is going to be resistance in some shape or form! Someone is not going to understand why you’re doing it or see the benefits of your choice. Remembering why you chose to do so, will keep you on course, especially when you feel like people are talking behind your back or plotting your demise.
Switching gears, maybe an extended period of time off isn’t possible right now. Don’t fret. You may not have the luxury, but you can still carve out time to move forward and rest. ‘Why?’ will help you do that. For example, there’s an opportunity to work overtime. Before you commit, you know what to do. Ask yourself why you’re doing it.
Or your friends invite you to a get together. ‘Why’ will help you choose what’s best for you. Life’s too short to always do what’s expected of you socially. In fact, Jesus had a church member die and he didn’t even call the family or send a text for three days!!! Although I wouldn’t recommend doing that, it goes do show that Jesus paid very little attention to social norms.
While your at it, have fun and don’t feel guilty about it if your conduct is a reflection of good character. I like how Eugene Peterson says it, “Take on an entirely new way of life- a God-fashioned life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you”. Ephesians 4:24 (MSG).
So go ahead and take the class. Read the book. Call the friend. Visit the beach. You’re in charge of your own time. If those activities are going to help you reach the goal you’ve set, go for it! Just be sure to decide ahead of time what your reason for taking the time off is, and act accordingly. Don’t be like me and end up in a Cedar swamp trying to figure out how you’re going to get home safely!
When did you last take time to reflect and determine the true motives behind your actions?
Stay tuned for part II!