This is the second of two articles on the importance of “re-creation” in the life of those in dedicated Christian ministry. While the first article covered the importance of rest, this article highlights the importance of recess and renewal. Excerpts are taken from Preventing Ministry Failure by Michael Todd Wilson and Brad Hoffmann. Copyright (c) 2007 by Michael Todd Wilson and Brad Hoffmann. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515. www.ivpress.com
In the middle of the daily routine of elementary school, we looked forward to recess as a time of running and playing. As children, we played with great abandon. Back then, our body needed to release all the energy it had built up from being cooped up in a classroom all day.
In reality, not much has changed since childhood. Adult bodies and emotions still require (and even yearn for) playful activity to release stress. While we believe that godliness has value for all things, we often overlook Paul’s acknowledgment that physical training has value as well (1 Timothy 4:8). Exercise affords opportunity to physically care for our body; play allows us to mentally and emotionally connect to our childlike side. Whereas rest is characterized by relaxation and downtime, recess involves focused activity and enjoyable “uptime.”
Special outings, sports, cultural events and weekend getaways offer a diversion from the rut of our everyday routine. There is great value in taking up a personal hobby or activity, allowing our mind and body to disengage from the responsibility of ministry and to ponder things a bit more entertaining. Playful exercise provides a great benefit not only to our physical state but also to our emotional and spiritual state.
Renewal re-energizes our spiritual vitality. Activities that renew produce deep growth of inner strength and character, conforming us to Christ’s likeness. Practice of the spiritual disciplines and intentional times of spiritual refreshment are examples of renewal activities.
Jesus often found places of solitude for prayer and contemplation (Luke 5:16). The Bible stresses the importance of renewal and transformation that comes through the continual renewing of our minds on God’s Word (Romans 12:2). Our personal vitality, creativity and perseverance are direct results of our own spiritual renewal.
If we don’t replenish our spent energy through re-creation, our body may eventually respond with physical ailment or burnout, or our congregation or board may respond in the form of ministry removal, or the demons crouching at our door will respond with temptations toward moral failure (Genesis 4:7). If we fail to prioritize time for rest, recess and renewal, we may not be as physically resilient, mentally sharp, emotionally stable or spiritually recharged as we need to be. If we take time for these things in the midst of our busy schedule, we’ll smile more and probably even get more done.