A wise missionary once told us that we should have hobbies. This was at a time when we were all excited about ministry and moving to Malawi within a few months. We were focused and ready to go, not really thinking about hobbies other than the fact that Matt’s photography business was about to revert to being a hobby.
But then he explained. Ministry doesn’t stop until heaven. Until then, there will always be more to be done, more discipleship, more counseling, more serving. Hobbies are different. They have a beginning and an end. One ship built in a glass bottle – done. One hand-carved toy – done.
The wisdom we’ve discovered in this is that when we have a hobby that gives us that sense of completion on a small-scale, we’re not making ministry a to-do item that we just want to check off the list. We can give the time and attention and patience to those relationships and ministries that they really need, without trying to just get it done and move on as quickly as possible.
So we have a few hobbies that we like to do on the side. For Matt, it’s photography. For Rachel, cooking. Ironically enough, these both help us in ministry. Matt’s photos give us (and other missionaries) presentations to explain life and ministry in Africa. Rachel’s cooking feeds guests in our home every week and, at times, every day. But these are still our hobbies. We love to do them, we love to exercise creativity in them, and there’s a sense of completion and satisfaction that goes with them. They don’t take the place of the ministries that we do here, but they come alongside those ministries, and they ward off discouragement on the days when the road of ministry seems long and dreary.
Matt’s photo of Rachel’s dinner – done and done. Now back to work.