Two months ago, Sheila and I enjoyed God's creativity in Park City UT, while exploring the history of my dad's family up there. One day we headed to the Olympic Park in hopes of riding a bobsled (no luck, we were in between the summer and winter seasons, but we did see the top 5 US luge drivers practicing!). Next to the road, the McPolin barn above entranced me. The largest I'd ever seen at 8969 sq. ft., it enclosed the milking operation, hay storage, and a lot more.
But the largest impact came when I noticed the farmhouse, an easy to miss building to the left of the barn and two silos. About 400 sq. ft. Get that difference? Nearly 9000 sq. ft. for the animals, 5% of that for the family. Now, I have no clue about the spiritual status of the McPolin family, but they practiced a key biblical principle, "Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after that, build your house" (Proverbs 24:27.
McPolin certainly did that. Their desire to have a comfortable home ranked well below ensuring that the work was done and done well. Now, how does that describe following Jesus? It speaks to part of our purpose as humans, and whenever we ignore the nature our Creator has placed in us, we lose some ability to connect with him. Makes sense, doesn't it? Let's examine three purposes to learn how to balance work and leisure.
1. Our purpose involves work and being productive. In Genesis 2:15 we read, "The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work and take care of it." When we work and take care of things, we match our purpose. As his mid 60's approached, Dad didn't want to retire. He saw too many friends retire and expire within a year or so--they had given their lives to their jobs and had nothing left to do. I wonder if God has kept me from winning the lottery to keep me from being slothful. Of course, I don't buy tickets, so...
2. Our purpose to be productive helps overcome our innate tendency to allow wants to become needs, to let leisure and comfort trump doing. If we ignore either we miss the best. God purposed a balance here as well, "Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work" (Deuteronomy 5:13-14). The principle behind this touches our nature and relationship with God, and crafting lives with work and leisure helps with balance.
3. Productivity helps us look ahead, to plan, to incorporate a long range view of life. At times, the immediate cries so urgently we ignore the ultimate. Busyness consumes us; we sacrifice long term for short term pleasures. In crafting their barn and silos, the McPolins needed to plan ahead, to take time from short term needs to prepare for the long term.
Of course, we need both. But I suspect the McPolin barn provides some spiritual tips for us today.
Kick Starting the Application
Have you considered that part of your purpose is to be productive? Do you view the concept of work as a blessing or a curse? Do you slide toward either extreme of being productive and resting? If so, what has caused that for you? What adjustments can you make in your attitude toward work and leisure? Will you?