Leisure and Burnout in Ministry Articles

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Really, What is Leisure

Over the past several months I have used the word "leisure" freely, but what is it? One simple definition is that leisure is an "intrinsically motivated experience." Leisure is personal in nature and the activity must be freely chosen.

For instance, corporate golf might be fun for some, and work to others. Playing softball on the church team may be an enjoyable endeavor for one, and a burden to another. Reading a novel may be fulfilling for you but pure boredom to another. What are those activities in your life that you have freely chosen and in which you find enjoyment?

If one is being forced into an activity because of social pressures it fails to be leisure. If one is always frustrated and over-challenged by a hobby it ceases to be leisure.

Here are some suggestions for creating more intrinsically motivated experiences:

Emphasize lifetime sports over highly competitive activities- I may have never had a prime as an athlete, but I can distinctly remember when competitive sports were no longer leisure to me. When my reflexes and abilities could no longer keep up with the challenges of the game, the game ceased to be enjoyable. On the other hand, I still enjoy long walks, golf (sometimes), and many forms of mentally challenging hobbies.

Develop hobbies that use the mind or increase physical dexterity-There are many activities that can remain with us for a lifetime. For example, enhancing computer skills, reading, woodworking, pottery, all can challenge or stimulate us. Studies have shown that active leisure pursuits, those that stimulate mind or body, are more likely to be enjoyable and life enhancing than more passive pursuits (e.g. heavy television consumption, spectator sports)

Discover those activities you enjoy in which you willingly participate- Based on reams of research in the field of leisure, the type of leisure one pursues is less important than having hobbies and past times that one is committed to and willing to invest time and energy.

Invest in leisure and make it a priority in your life. Your life will be enhanced beyond measure.


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