After all, this is the year that your productivity is going to reach new heights. It will be your most productive year ever!
And so the guilt trip begins. “I’m not being as productive as I could be.”
So we cut some downtime and fill it with more productive tasks. We take less breaks during the day so we can be more productive.
We’re convinced that if we just upped our intensity longer we could be more productive.
But is that really true?
And are we all the same?
Is it a sign of laziness to schedule downtime to refresh ourselves mentally and renew ourselves physically?
In the football world it’s well established that defenses get tired if they are on the field too long during the game. Actually they become less productive.
So before you give into the productivity guilt complex and rush into a new high performance program, make sure you allow for and schedule some necessary downtime.
Yes, you may feel a little guilty, but you will be more productive!
While there I was impressed with Tommy and LaDel’s marriage. The culture actually helped them build some healthy rhythms into their marriage.
They lived in Eldoret, Kenya which is just above the equator. Sunrise and sunset are about the same time year around, 7am and 7pm.
A typical day included Tommy and me getting up around 5am, having our quiet time and then he attempting to teach me Swahili.
After breakfast we headed out to either frame up church buildings or hold various meetings. Then we would call it a day and have dinner. After dinner that was it. I mean there were no distractions. No TV (this was the early 80’s in a third world country), no outdoor activities (not the safest thing to do) and nowhere to go. When the sun went down everything was locked up. They had iron gates to get onto their property and another iron gate at the front door.
But this allowed them to build in some deliberate practices into their marriage. For instance, after dinner they would typically sit on the couch and talk. Also, there was some minimal British TV (definitely not my style of humor) which they had adapted to. When there is none, even bad TV is watchable, I guess.
They also planned 2-3 day getaways. Once again, even in a culture with almost zero distractions, they were deliberate.
For the rest of us, you would think that all the deliberation that was evident during our dating time would carry over. Unfortunately, it doesn’t.
Think of all the distractions we have here in the States. We have hundreds of TV channels, Gold’s Gym, Starbucks, Sunday afternoon football, sporting events for our kids, cleaning house, and yard work.
These distractions lead to drift. The only way to overcome the drift is to be aware of the distractions and be more deliberate in your marriage.
Every marriage is different. Some have little kids, some have grown kids. Sometimes both spouses work. Schedules get complicated. Priorities shift. And drift happens.
Today is Valentine’s Day. Today you are deliberate. That’s the scary part. Too many are ready to pat themselves on the back for thinking ahead and planning a great evening. But this is just one day.
Tomorrow and every day after that the distractions will once again begin to pile up. Marriages will drift.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Are Aware of Distractions
Do Deliberate Things
You can be deliberate. The question is… Are you?
Now that is all fine and good. And I’m not suggesting you don’t celebrate the day. Just don’t get caught up in the moment of the day. What I mean is you can’t create a life time of romance around the big days.
One of the sad realities of marriage is that romance dwindles simply due to natural drift. We simply don’t think about it. Until a big day arrives. Then we make some reservations at a restaurant and order some flowers.
If marriage was that easy we could all take a one week cruise to the Caribbean and be done for the year. Which all points to daily romance, not monthly or yearly romance.
Romance is built everyday.
Romance is in the every day things. Romance is…
Running to the store to pick up some lettuce.
Sitting around chit chatting.
Listening to my spouse’s viewpoint.
Sending a text that encourages.
Cooking a favorite dish.
Watching a TV show together.
Hiking in the mountains.
Planning your next trip.
Sharing feelings with one another.
All of the above actually cost nothing. Yet Valentine’s Day is THE day to buy flowers and go out to dinner. But if you are not careful, your investment on that one day can go south in a hurry, if you ignore what romance is really built on: Daily things.
What have you done today to build a romance filled marriage?
How many of us charge into the New Year determined that this year will be different?
So we set off and begin setting goals, some ambitious but unattainable. Some marginal but uninspiring. Some too far in the future and unclear.
Nonetheless, we set out writing down how this year will be different.
Weight and physical fitness. Check.
Get out of debt. Check.
Date night once a month. Check.
Stop smoking. Check.
Now that we are one week into the New Year are we satisfied that we are on track?
Or is it possible that we have overlooked the most important of all?
What about some Soul Resolutions? Quite simply, these have to do with seemingly intangibles of life. Although in many respects they are not.
How many of us have addressed our irritability with the proper resolution? Oh sure, we say things like, “This year I am going to be less irritable.” And that’s it. We have done nothing to address the issue other than simply “Say it.”
For the record go ahead and add to the list things like moodiness, pride, obnoxiousness, resentment, and anger. I can’t tell you how many people I know who will continue to struggle with these unless their soul changes.
All of us will continue to damage our own lives and those around us if we neglect our soul.
With that in mind let me give you five quick hits for your soul.
1. Spend fifteen minutes a day reading your Bible and praying.
2. Pray for people you know who are hurting and serve them in any way you can. Sometimes all you can do is pray.
3. Connect with others regularly in order to share your burdens and also allow them to share theirs.
4. Give regularly and generously to the church you attend. Yesterday at New Hope we heard the testimony of a family who began tithing two years ago and how it changed their lives.
5. Pray for those you now who do not attend church and invite them when appropriate. Once again, at New Hope I am starting a series January 12 entitled, Faith in the Midst of Pain and Suffering. At the core it is a message about the soul. And it will be very helpful for anyone you know.
Those five things are not hard to do. They do not take a lot of time. The downside is you cannot measure the health of your soul in a week’s time or sometime a year. As I mention earlier, we have a family that now two years later one of their soul resolutions is very visible.
As the New Year gets underway in earnest this week, and you look over your aspirations for 2014, ask Am I Missing Something?
Most of us are probably somewhat familiar with the origin of our Thanksgiving holiday. We could trace its history all the way back to the Reformation, the decline of biblical values in society, and the desire of some Christians to be able to worship freely.
However, what is most familiar is the story of the Pilgrims. They started out in England and from there went to Holland. They felt that God was leading them to plant a colony where they could worship and live their lives as the Bible taught. Because they separated themselves and moved in 1608 to Holland they were called “Separatists.”
After twelve years in Holland they packed up again once again in search of religious freedom and a desire to expand their Christian faith. Later the Separatists became better known as Pilgrims which means travelers or wanderers.
That led ultimately to a voyage to America in 1620. The Mayflower landed late in 1620 with only about one third of its passengers considered to be Separatists. Upon arrival not everyone was interested in working to his full capacity and for the first couple of years food was in short supply.
It was at that time William Bradford decided to divide the land and let each household be responsible for meeting their own needs. It turned out to be a very wise decision, as production in the colony went way up. As Bradford later writes he is careful to give God all the credit for numerous events, the decisions that were made, and for leading them in specific ways.
While we have read about the first Thanksgiving in 1621 after the Pilgrims’ first growing season how often do we stop and give thanks for how God has led us? Let’s not forget that that first year was not incredible. One third of the colonists died during that first winter because of malnutrition or disease. The point is we don’t simply thank God when life is overly bountiful, we also thank Him in lesser times. That means we all have a story to tell where God gets the credit.
Carol and I built our first house and lived in it for several years as we added on and finished the basement. Our house was simple and small, but our lives were about to change. We went out on a date on a Friday night. Right after we dropped the kids off at some friends Carol suggested that we take a look at a piece of land she had seen advertised on the highway.
At this point I was in no mood to build another house. After all we had just finished the one we were in. For some reason (I believe God led me), I said ok, “Where is the property?”
We drove by and by Sunday evening we had a deal on five acres of property. It was there that we built our second house and from a financial standpoint it turned out to be the biggest turning point in our lives.
Like William Bradford, I hope to be able to always look back and see how God has worked in my life. Too much happens that I simply cannot take the credit for. What if Carol and I had not gone out on that Friday night? We learned later that another buyer had the money to buy it at 8am on Monday morning. What if Carol had not gone out that day and seen the sign?
The bottom line–God is at work in your life. Have you noticed? Have you taken the time to recount how He has led you?
This Thanksgiving, take some time to review God’s providence, His working in your life, and thank Him.
Thanksgiving: Give God the Credit!