What do you do for fun? What brings you joy, and what hobbies are a part of your life? This week, I want to discuss the role that hobbies should have in our life, and how we can glorify God in them. Those of you who are in full-time ministry, you know that your time can become so consumed by responsibilities, events, and people, as well as time with family and domestic responsibilities. And those of you who are not in full-time ministry still have busyness in your lives and may even be busier than us. But as I discussed the Sabbath a few weeks ago, I think we need to see the dysfunction lying in wait if we are not intentionally balanced in our lives. And that balance should include something that we do for fun.
Dictionary.com defines a hobby as “an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation.” I think that’s a great launching point for what I want to discuss. A hobby is not something we do to kill time, or simply because we are bored. Rather, a hobby is something we actively pursue for relaxation or enjoyment. A hobby is not something that is already a part of our vocation (I can’t say hanging with teenagers is my hobby…). A hobby is something that we are interested in, a passion we have.
You may be thinking, “Aren’t hobbies a waste of time? Shouldn’t we be focusing on the important things?” To those objections, I say this: God has given us the ability to enjoy things and to give him glory in all that we do. Too often we create a divide between the “important” things and the “trivial” things, not recognizing that we can and should honor him in the “trivial”, like a hobby. And when we look at a hobby in the proper way, it isn’t just a trivial thing. A hobby should be purposeful, and helps us create boundaries around the time we are working and doing ministry and the time we are resting and relaxing.
A hobby is also a conscious effort to practically live out the times when Scripture says things like, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven”, or “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Or, the statement a little earlier in Ecclesiastes, that “There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God.” What I gather from these three passages is this: there is a time and place for everything, we can and should do everything to the glory of God, and that God provides enjoyment to those who please him, while sinners are busy working away to no end.
I’m not advocating for an abandonment of seriousness or of work – those of you who know me personally know that I’m a very hard worker. But what I am advocating is this: we need to balance our work with times of rest that include interests or activities that bring us joy. Things that we can give glory to God through, as we enjoy them. Things that are a practical way of seeing that all things should be done to honor God, not just the things of ministry.
So let me ask you these questions again: What do you do for fun? What brings you joy, and what hobbies are a part of your life? Maybe it’s gardening or reading books. Or you love to hike and go on bike rides. Maybe you have a specific place you love to visit. If you are unable to point to something, maybe you need to be more purposeful in creating a space for a hobby. An intentional activity you pursue for your personal well-being. Of course, as we consider our hobbies, we have to be mindful of a few things. We need to be careful not to store up treasures on earth, placing too much value and stock in our hobbies (and I’m talking to myself there). We also need to filter them through Paul’s admonition in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” If the hobby you have involves something sinful, that’s not what I’m advocating for. But we have to expand our perspective on what can fit into those categories – gardening, hiking, travel, and in my case, board games, can all be lovely, commendable, true, and glorifying to God.
Whether you are in full-time ministry or not, please hear my plea. We need to be balanced between our vocation and our rest, and one aspect of that balance is a hobby. Finding something that we enjoy, that we can glorify God through that enjoyment, and that is an intentional step away from working to no end. I think this ties back into a proper theology of the Sabbath and of celebration, as I’ve discussed previously. Also, when we consider the teenagers that we are discipling, demonstrating a proper hobby and worship of God through that hobby should be extremely beneficial to them. They need us to help them see an integrated life of worship, both in the “trivial” and the “important”. For us to help them see that their music, robotics, sports, reading, hiking, and more can be a part of their relationship with God as much as their church attendance is tremendous. But in order for them to see that, we have to be living it out first.
 Ecclesiastes 3:1 ESV
 1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV
 Ecclesiastes 2:24-26 ESV
 Philippians 4:8 ESV