Which is easier for you? To serve others? Or enjoy life? If I had to guess, I would guess you’re pretty good at serving. At home. At church. During the week. Into the evenings. On the weekend.
The requests pour in. From your family, from friends, from your child’s school, from church. And, if you serve full-time in some capacity (at home or for work), the requests for your time literally never end. I know. I’ve been there. I’m still there.
The thing about service is that its voice is loud and always present. There is always a need, always a time and place to lend a helping hand. And once you say yes to one thing, it seems like the requests multiply themselves exponentially.
While service is good, exhaustion is not. Being so busy you can’t enjoy the life God’s given to you is not what God intended. Read what the wisest man who ever lived wrote,
Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 (MSG)
After looking at the way things are on this earth, here’s what I’ve decided is the best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that’s about it. That’s the human lot. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work. It’s God’s gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now. It’s useless to brood over how long we might live.
Did you notice what God gives? A life of bounty. A life full of generous gifts from a generous God. AND the capacity to ENJOY it!
You see, life and service are not meant to be a drudgery. Life is not just an endless list of one more thing to do. Real life is not made by constantly running here and there, saying yes to all the things. Life is made to enter into, to savor, to experience joy in the small moments along the way.
Tips to Enjoy Life
But how do you actually DO this? Well, the wisest man who ever lived outlined the practical part as well.
Take care of yourself.
I find it interesting that he starts here. Usually when we’re overwhelmed with service, this is the last thing on our mind. It almost seems selfish in some way, but the reality is, it’s not. You need to care for your own body and soul first so that you can then give and serve from the overflow.
How can you make enjoying time with God a priority in your life? God’s presence, words and truth give oxygen to your soul. Your soul depends on them and doesn’t function as God intended without regular, meaningful, and personal interaction with him. (For practical ideas, read “How are You Enjoying God?”)
How can you better care for your body? Is service crowding out the sleep you need? Not getting enough sleep can be a sign that we are depending on self instead of God. We can’t do it all. God didn’t create us to do it all. Every time we lay down to sleep, we declare our dependence on God. We submit to his design and allow rest to renew and restore us. (To help you work through this idea, check out Trust God and Go to Bed!)
Have a good time.
In order to serve others well, you also need to make time for what you love. Time outdoors, baking, pursuing hobbies, friends, coffee, children, laughter, books, sports … the list is endless and individual.
The problem here tends to be that we push desire down and basically eradicate it. But desire is critical in so many ways. Desire should be what fuels our relationships and our service. When we squelch desire in one area (doing what we personally enjoy), it impacts all other areas of life too.
What do you want to do but don’t feel like you have time for? What seems like an indulgence of your time? Do that. Do it regularly. Notice the difference in your heart and soul. And watch it begin to impact other areas of your life.
Make the most of whatever job you have.
The writer actually adds another thought related to our work a few sentences after this one. He says we should accept and DELIGHT in the work God gives us. Think about your work for a minute (your work at home or in an office). When’s the last time it brought delight to you?
Delight means to relish, savor or enjoy. Our jobs are God’s gifts to us (as the write of Ecclesiastes points out). He intends us to find life in them. They are for our good and for the good of others. It’s easy, however, to get stuck in the dailiness of work and only see a mounting list of tasks to accomplish.
Finding joy and delight in work, having a good time in the midst of it, requires slowing down and viewing it differently. Think about changes you can make related to your work.
What’s something you love to do but delegated to someone else to free up your time? See if you can take it back.
What aspects of your job energize you? Do more of these.
What can you do to break up the monotony? Can you use your breaks differently? Can you schedule in fun activities that reach hearts?
How can you engage more with the people around you? How can you see them and their needs differently?
How can you bring joy and laughter into your place of work?
Learn to say, “no”.
This point isn’t included in this passage, but it’s also wise advice. And maybe even the most practical. You can’t be everything to everyone. You can’t squeeze more in, somehow hoping to make life more complete. You can’t even do everything that you would love to do.
You have limited time and limited energy. You must take care of your soul and body and leave time to enjoy your life and the work God has given. This requires you to listen for God’s voice, align your activities with your priorities, and guard your schedule zealously. (For more practical ideas on how to do this, read Making Time for What’s Most Important.)
Saying no is not always easy, or straightforward. I know from experience!
Last summer I was praying about how to engage further in ministry at church. I knew I wanted to help in our Wednesday night ministry again after taking a break for a few years. My boy was ready to attend, and I looked forward to serving too.
I originally agreed to help teach on a limited basis. As the time drew closer, I had a growing uneasiness about this commitment. There were many factors that influenced my decision to step back from the teaching commitment and serve in a different capacity.
It was hard for me to communicate this decision. Hard for me to step away from something I hadn’t even started. But now, four months later, I can see why it was best. I didn’t know it at the time, but it would have been impossible for me to teach this year.
You see, transitions are hard for my boy. It can take months (or even years!) for him to get used to something new. And this transition into Wednesday night activities was so much harder than I ever imagined.
He’s with many of the same kids and in the same room as he is on Sunday. He’s with teachers he knows and interacts with outside of class time. Yet, for whatever reason, he is so anxious. He wakes up on Wednesday morning figuring out ways to avoid going that night!
And so, it’s meant that I stick around in his classroom for a good 45 minutes or so each night to get him adjusted and at ease before slipping out to serve in another classroom. And guess what. Those 45 minutes are the SAME 45 minutes that I would have needed to be teaching.
I had no way to know that at the time. But God did. He quietly led me to what was best for me and my family at this stage in life while still allowing me the opportunity to serve.
You can still serve while you enjoy life. It might just look different than you think it will. Or even than others think it should.
By taking time to enjoy life and work, you can find opportunities to serve that are not burdensome. Opportunities that don’t steal your joy but that give you joy and delight as you enter into the good gifts that God gives to you.
My prayer is that Isaiah 30:21 would be true for you as you consider how to enjoy life while still serving.
And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
In the FREE Resource Library you’ll find a monthly calendar guide to help you plan ways to
- Take care of yourself
- Have a good time
- Make the most of whatever job you have
- Learn to say, “no”
Visit now to download and print it! (You’ll find it under “Rest”.)
If you don’t yet have access to the FREE Resource Library, why don’t you join today?