If you are anything like me your life is a checklist. I wake up and the first thing I think about is what I need to do that day. I seem to have been born with a personal task master wired into my brain that is OCD about arranging the items I have to do in order of importance, urgency and the most efficient order to do them in. There is always something new to do and something new to see. So if I want to do something, even if it is fun, I just add it to the list and proceed to execute that task with as much precision and focus as I can muster. Unfortunately, I get so busy thinking about what is next and how to do it that I miss the beauty and pleasure in what I am currently doing. It’s what I call the curse of “NEXT”.
It is so easy to live in the future and not in the present. If we are not careful, we can miss life while we plow right through it. I used to think that when I got my iPhone my life would be so much easier because I could keep my calendar synced up and I could find a lot of extra time once I had all my calendar issues settled. But instead of being less busy, I have simply filled the time with other busy things.
This week I have been thinking about the concept of slowing down. John Ortberg, the author of “T he Life You Have Always Wanted”, devotes a whole chapter that is very worth reading about this concept. His premise is that if we don’t slow down we will miss the most important things in this life. Ortberg says we must choose to slow our life down or else it will constantly be out of control. We will never enjoy life unless we choose to slow down. No one else can do that for us. We must practice it as a discipline. In the same way that we train for a 5K or a Triathlon, we must train to be people who enjoy the moment.
Last year I had the opportunity to start a church. Although it is a labor of love, it is a lot of hard work. There is constantly something to do and people to minister to. In the midst of all this I must choose to slow myself so that I can enjoy the journey God is allowing me to go through. There will never be another beginning to Green Hills Church. If I am not careful, I will miss the joy in seeing a new church bloom.
We all need seasons in our lives to rest. Doing things are very important, but if life is constantly doing and never being then it is not enjoyable. I don’t want to be a human doing, I want to be a human being. That’s why God has given us the Sabbath, a time to rest. God from the beginning has chosen to model that we need to take time in our lives to rest. He told the people of Israel to rest every week and every 7 years they had to let their land rest. Rest is very important. It allows us to live, not just to do.
Summer time is a great time to slow down. The pace of life around us naturally slows down due to the change in seasons. This summer, my Co-Pastor, Brad and I decided that we were going to enjoy the summer. We decided that we were going to slow down and choose to rest because the fall is an exciting and very busy time. It’s just really hard to honor that commitment. But this week I have realized that summer is passing by very quickly and if I don’t choose to slow myself, I will enter the fall fatigued.
So here are some ideas on how to proactively rest. I don’t mean that you shouldn’t go to work or that you should slack off on work but I think there are some ways to slow life down. First of all turn the TV off. Thats right. Football isn’t here yet and all your favorite shows are on hiatus until the fall, so why do we need to watch reruns for hours at a time at night? Try this, instead of watching TV, pick out a book and immerse your mind into another world. I know some people like reading non-fiction, I think there is no substitute for escapist fiction.
A second idea is to choose to be either 5 minutes early or 5 minutes late to things. You would be surprised how much pressure you relieve when you do this. You take the control of the situation instead of falling into the tyranny of deadlines.
Lastly, I think a great way to slow down is to remove something from your calendar that is important. Our lives are constantly filled with things that are important and urgent. Many things we think are important really aren’t. I often find myself doing things that I dont want to do, in hopes of impressing someone. Sometimes we need to let those things that only seem important to fade away into the background and let the truly important things like family and God rise to the forefront.
Some of you have checked out my buddy Josh Bronleewe’s music- especially his song “Wake Up” that I posted a while back on the blog. I was listening to a new song he posted on his myspace page called “Highway.” It’s really mellow and it slowed me down as I listened to it. I hope you like it: http://www.myspace.com/joshbronleewe