I'm a big fan of TED talks. For those of you who haven't come across them before TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, and the concept is that experts in pretty much any field get to speak for 18 minutes or less on something which they feel will make the world a better place (just as an aside for all us preachers out there who think we need at least 40 minutes to get our point across, it's amazing how much you can say in 18 minutes!). If you've never been there before why not go to the TED site and watch a talk that takes your interest - it will do you far more good than "Pointless" or "Cash in the Attic", and if nothing else will give you something to talk about which will make you sound intelligent at the next party you go to!
I watched a TED talk recently by a guy called Stefan Sagmeister called "The Power of Time Off". He owns a design company, and every seven years he closes it down for a year to give everyone space to do research and think creative thoughts. His conclusions are fascinating, including:
- Through doing it he rediscovered his job as a calling, rather than just something he did to make money.
- All of the creative ideas which got implemented during the 7 years of work could be traced back to ideas which they came up with during the year off.
- Financially they were better off because they were doing better work, and so could charge more for it.
I find all of that fascinating.
Now I realise that most of us can't just take a year off. But I also realise that what Stefan has discovered is something which is deeply rooted in the scriptures, and the reason that it works so well for him is that living life with this rhythm, of times of work and times to stop and reflect, is how God made us to function. I wrote about this more in the Peach and the Coconut in the chapter on Rhythm - that as we look at the world we see God designed it with a rhythm. The days split into darkness and light. The weeks with the sabbath day of rest. The months with both the seasons and the Old Testament feasts. The years with a year of Jubilee every seven years where the land and the people rested.
I believe that to fully be who God created us to be, for us to achieve our full God given potential, each of us needs to find our rhythm. That the abundant life God has for us won't come simply through hard work, but as we find time to stop, reflect, listen to God and connect with him at a deeper level than we do in the busyness of our every day lives. That I can only be the husband, dad, child, friend, pastor, employee and Christ follower I'm called to be out of that place of rest.
I'm also increasingly convinced that this is key to us being the church God is calling us to be. On one level Kerith might be judged as being successful - growing numbers, increasing community impact, more nations being reached. But I sometimes wonder at what cost to our own souls that is being achieved, and whether it's truly producing the depth of disciples Jesus died for and longs for. Just like Stefan experienced I wonder whether God has for us a different rhythm, where we'd rediscover the depth of our calling whilst also achieving far more than we'd have ever have achieved simply through hard work.
I'm starting to discover what that looks like for me. I'd love to start a conversation on what that might look like for others too, and whether this makes sense to others or perhaps I've just been drinking too much coffee :)