Wow… I honestly didn’t realize that it had been so long since I had done any substantive posting here on PoG.
I apologize to those of you who read this site, and offer my summer schedule as a valid and legitimate excuse. Summers in ministry are difficult. It’s not just that busy-ness increases, it’s also the almost total break in anything resembling a regular schedule for the better part of three months.
I am re-booting, recommitting to regular substantive posts here on the Pursuit of God. My own pursuit of God has not stopped for the last three months, but it wouldn’t be entirely truthful to say that it has continued with the same intensity, either. It seems like summers always find me rushing around doing very details-oriented tasks that are often as mind numbing as the are time consuming. And I always find that when I am forced to switch my focus off of ideas, plans, dreams, pursuits, etc., and on to details, I tend to get bogged down, discouraged, and lethargic. I think that many Believers suffer this same tendency – when we are forced to focus on “real life”, it tends to draw our focus away from God and all He is revealing to us and doing in our lives.
So how do we get back on track after a particularly busy or trying season? Here are some things that work for me:
- Be active – This is sort of a new one for me. Over the last four years, I had let myself get pretty out of shape. Right after camp season this year, my wife and I started training for a 5k run in October. Signing up for this race is actually part of a larger story in our lives that I will share later on when it is more complete. But the immediate side effects have been that, even when my work/life schedule is all crazy, I know that Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday we are going to run together. Also, being active tends to get you out of the house, which is a good thing. Michelle will tell you, I am a total homebody, but getting off the couch, out of the house, and being active will go a long way towards helping you look around and see God’s beauty everywhere.
- Recapture your routine – For babies and toddlers to thrive, they really need to be on a solid schedule. I’m not sure we ever lose this need. As much as possible, get back on whatever schedule works best for you. If you want pursuing God to be a regular part of your routine, then you need a routine to make it a regular part of.
- Switch things up – This is not antithetical to recapturing your routine. I find that sometimes changing things up in some way helps me to reboot my brain a little bit. A couple of years ago as summer was ending, I rearranged my office to give myself a different view. This year, I’m exploring a couple of new translations of the Bible. So far, it has been tremendously helpful in getting my own pursuit of God back on track to see God’s Word in different words than I have been used to for the last several years. Doing something seemingly unconnected like rearranging your furniture, repainting a room in your house, getting your morning coffee from a different store, etc., can go a long way towards restarting the brain triggers that will help you establish routines.
- Find a new pursuit – I don’t mean that you should find something other than God to pursue – just that, if your primary means of pursuing God was Bible studies, and you were knocked off that routine, maybe it’s time to find a new primary means of pursuing God. Recently I have taken much more of an interest in artistic stuff, to the point that I started a companion blog to the Pursuit of God, called Artistic Pursuits. Some might rephrase this point as “find a new hobby”. That’s fine, provided it’s something you can pursue God while doing, i.e. something that will teach you about God or provide insight into His character/nature/person.
- De-clutter – Right now the desk in my office is piled with books, papers, blank cds, a coffee cup, folders, microphone cables, guitar picks, boxes, old speakers, pens, highlighters, dry erase markers, glow bracelets (youth minister, remember?), and probably a few other things I can’t see from where I’m sitting. By the end of the day, that stuff will all be thrown away, put away, filed, etc., and I will feel much better about life. It’s very easy for us to lose track of how much clutter affects us negatively. It builds up slowly most of the time, so we don’t notice it very much until it has completely taken over. Then we (I, at least) feel like we’re suffocating. Every piece of clutter is probably there because we thought it was important enough to hold on to for the time being, so every time we look around we see something that we have flagged mentally as important and it distracts us. De-cluttering is not always easy, but it’s a quick way to regain your focus.
- Get some rest – This is easier for some than others. Summers in youth ministry are brutal. Michelle and I have talked seriously about taking our family vacation during the week before school starts, and if she didn’t have to start work that week every year, I think we would. Being run-down physically leads us to be run-down mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, too. Often times the absolute best thing you can do for yourself is to get away from your areas of responsibility and take a breather.
I hope these ideas are helpful to you. I know that for me, just the act of thinking through this post has already made a difference for me. It’s time for me to get back on track with my personal pursuit of God, and with sharing that pursuit with you on this blog. I’m looking forward to a lively, interesting, challenging, and fulfilling fall, and I hope you’ll join me for the journey.