Today I spent the morning on a course with Jon Stannard, the new National Director of Viz A Viz Ministries. It was a good course and we covered a lot of ground. It was rough in places, particularly at the start, but perseverance saw us complete it and enjoy a good cup of coffee and some sponge cake at the end. We were putting some green issues together, and attempted to drive churches forward in evangelism. Some chips were enjoyed and on the whole it was above par.
In case you have not realised, it was a golf course. (yes, I know the first paragraph is very cheesy).
But it was also a good opportunity to talk. Mark Twain suggested that golf is a “good walk spoiled” but I have discovered it is a good talk uncoiled – time to chat, to laugh, to encourage, to search (lots in my case), to share and to be unencumbered by other concerns and uninterrupted by all the things and people waiting for you. There is time and space to unwind, relax and to enjoy God’s world (especially longer grass) in the company of a friend.
Golf is not the only way in which we can do this, but I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that such occasions are essential for my own personal health and sanity. Unless I deliberately spend time with others, enjoying being with them and relaxing, I am in danger of failing to obey the commandment to have sabbath rest, a foundational principle for human existence. All work and no play does not make me a dull boy, it makes me a candidate for burnout. Sabbath rest (especially for ministers) is not often Sunday. It is sometimes alone, but it may also be with others who re-energise us. I had such an experience last week with a friend who took me out for breakfast (thank you SO much Dave!).
So where’s your ‘golf course’? A pub? A coffee shop? A sofa watching TV? A walk in the countryside? A swimming pool? A comedy club? A cinema? A restaurant? Performing magic tricks? Sharing a hobby / interest with others? Playing games? [insert your own ‘golf course’ here].
When was the last time you had a round of golf there? Who was with you? Do you realise that God blessed you through them?
I have to remind myself that God has made me as a human being and that sometimes I need to be a being in order that I am more fully human. This is not primarily so I can be a better do-er. It is so I can become more like the best ‘me’ that God has created me to become.
Be blessed, be a blessing
Negotiations between union members and their employer were at an impasse. The union denied that their workers were flagrantly abusing their contract’s sick-leave provisions.
One morning at the bargaining table, the company’s chief negotiator held aloft the morning edition of the newspaper, “This man,” he announced, “called in sick yesterday!”
There on the sports page, was a photo of the supposedly ill employee, who had just won a local golf tournament with an excellent score.
The silence in the room was broken by a union negotiator. “Wow,” he said. “Just think of what score he could have had if he hadn’t been sick!”