Staying in the Game When You Love What You Do

Sometimes I can't wait to prepare that next message or write my next blog post or go to the next staff meeting. I love what what I do, most of the time. I've loved it for the past 20 years of living overseas. Mostly.

I recently submitted an article for my friends at Velvet Ashes, a community of brave women serving cross-culturally. The post is titled, Staying in the Game. As I reflected on the readers and read their comments, I thought to myself, They really love most of what they do, even though their lives can be really hard. A big reason why these expats and many others like them love what they do is because they have developed into resilient individuals, families and teams.

When I think of what is needed to stay in the game I think of resiliency. When I think of resiliency I think of the ability to bounce back from intense seasons of life. And nothing is more critical to resiliency than balance. By balance I mean consistently paying attention to each area of our lives - personal, professional, and spiritual.

When our motivation level for work is high we don't necessarily feel the need to step back and give attention to a hobby, a spiritual retreat, or to acquire some new expertise. But these initiatives create balance, leading to longevity and a creative impact we can't otherwise achieve without them. Let's explore these a bit further...

  • Personal Growth. Even work we enjoy can become monotonous when we aren't paying attention to the need for personal growth. I'm talking here about other desires and interests which allow us to unplug from all things work-related, such as taking up a new hobby or reviving an old one.

A few years ago, I revived an old childhood hobby of raising game birds. I confess it was a lot of work and some expense to get off the ground. It sort of felt like a new business start-up, but it was definitely renewing because I was really detaching myself from work. Other, more simple options might include taking an art or karate class, climbing your first 14er, or teaching yourself to play the guitar. Any one of these has the necessary ingredients to put life and creativity back into our work.

  • Professional Development. As a pastor and a life coach I'm literally faced with thousands of professional growth offers I could take advantage of. Seminars, webinars, on-site training programs... While these can be useful, it really doesn't need to be complicated or expensive. It could simply be something like setting a goal to read one book each quarter pertaining to your area of specialization. What are you sensing a need for as it relates to work and ministry? You name it. Resources are available to help us get even better at what we do.
  • Spiritual Renewal. The roots of our spiritual lives can become dry and shallow without a regular dose of renewal. Jesus modeled regular times for renewal in his own life:
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
— Luke 5:16 NIV
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬
— Mark 6:31 NIV

Solitude and doing things which get us more or less alone is essential to our overall well-being and longevity. What, apart from your work, energizes you and helps you return to the routine with renewed creativity?

 Tip: Try combining personal growth and spiritual renewal into one activity. For me, learning a new worship song on the guitar can do the trick. Or, fishing on a lonely stretch of creek. What works for you?

Are you one of those, like me, who genuinely love what you do -most of the time? That's a gift to be grateful for. How can you best steward it? We can love our jobs more and stay in the game longer by developing and maintaining resiliency. A resilient life is a balanced life.

See you on the creek!