"Men have become tools of their tools."
In August, I'll celebrate 6 years of blogging at sixthgen.com. In that time, I've posted nearly every week. Now it's time to take a break. Today I begin a blogging sabbatical until September.
Tools, like the internet, are good things. This blog allows me to reach thousands of people around the country and world.
But as Thoreau noted, "Men have become tools of their tools." Even good things can enslave us. I'm checking my use of technology and assessing my workload. Taking a break from regular blogging is part of my re-calibration.
Fields need to lie fallow in order to be more fertile.
Calloused hands need time to soften.
Weary feet need to be lifted.
Thanks for following me. I'm grateful for the support.
This summer, find some time for rest, health, and leisure.
And if you're looking for summer reading, go here.
I got at app called Moment that tracks how much time you’re on the phone and how many times you check it in a day. Let’s just say, “Convicting.”
I was at my daughter’s gymnastics class. There’s an upper balcony with bleachers for parents to watch their kids. Forty parents and all of them glued to screens.
Ten years ago, before the iPad and iPhone were mainstream, the average person had an attention span of about 12 seconds. Now it’s 8 seconds. Shorter than the 9 second attention span of a goldfish. See Adam Alter’s book Irresistible and his recent interview on NPR.
So I’m going on a tech diet. I’m not quitting, just putting my electronic devices in their proper place. Why?
The room was packed for the preschool Christmas program. I was sitting near the aisle with my camera in hand. My son Joshua was Joseph that year and his friend Claire was Mary. I was prepared to document the entire event.
The procession commenced. As the kids walked in, I spotted Joseph and Mary, holding hands. Totally precious.
I fumbled with my camera, trying to capture the moment. Unable to get the cap off the lens, I reached for my phone to get some video. I was looking down . . . pushing buttons. By the time I was ready, the kids were already up front. I missed the entire entrance.
But there was Joshua, in his Joseph garb. He picked me out of the sea of faces and waved. “Hi, Dad!” He didn't care about the pictures. He just wanted my attention.
At that moment, I made a vow. "I’m going to stop documenting this event and instead simply be at this event." This applies to much of our life, especially in December.
We are obsessed with doing at the expense of being.
There is not enough time to meet all of the demands.
You wonder if this is what burnout is.
We think that the answer to being overwhelmed is better productivity. Find the best "life-hack" blog. But there's a secret weapon that very few are talking about. Instead of being more productive, be less.
Instead of adding things, subtract some.
There's a spiritual discipline formed around this philosophy. Fasting. And it's not just about food. Here are four "fasts" to use when life is overwhelming.
No roads or cars.
No bathrooms or outhouses.
No cell service.
Just water, a pack, a paddle, and a canoe.
I went off the grid for three days last week in the far recesses of Northern Minnesota, near the Canadian border. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area is a swath of land that includes 1,100 lakes and no human civilization.
Here's why I went off the grid:
I've been too busy. Maybe you have too. This is what I'm doing about it: Rest.
The word rest in Hebrew is shabbat, from which we get the word Sabbath. Shabbat means "to cease or stop." There is a time to be active and work. Then there is a time to cease doing the things you do the other six days of the week. Of the Ten Commandments - before killing, stealing, or committing adultery – the third calls us to “remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.”
I'm writing this post for myself. Last fall, I was a guest in a class of future pastors at Concordia Seminary. The topic of self-care came up and I rattled off a list of things I've instituted to stay grounded and healthy. But now it's spring, and I'm straying from my own advice.
With the strains and demands of my vocations, I can slip into unhealthy habits. I know my limitations. I need healthy boundaries and habits to maintain balance. So here's my list - and personal reminder - of how to stay grounded.
Last week I was with pastors from around the St. Louis metro area. While talking about our people, we discovered one of the greatest challenges people face is busyness.
"People's schedules are horrendous."
"Everyone is over-committed."
"No one has extra time."
Being too busy is a major issue in our fast-paced society. There are more demands on people than ever before. And it's leading to stress, depression, divorce, burnout, and health issues.
So what do you do if you're too busy? Martin Luther's theology of vocation is all about setting priorities. Here's how you can begin to set clear priorities and defend against unhealthy busyness.
We have returned from a family vacation, a tour of the Great Lakes - Lakes Michigan, Huron, and Superior. One fifth of the world's fresh water is contained in the five Great Lakes. Lake Superior is the largest, deepest, and coldest of the lakes. Time away on family vacation reminded me of two things:
1.) We work from our rest. We can't work effectively or faithfully without adequate rest. Exhaustion stifles creativity, skill, and the capacity to care. We may come back to a full e-mail inbox (I had 2,400), but we return with clearer perspective and renewed energy.
2.) Vacations create lasting memories. Do you remember a family vacation as a child? The long car ride? The flat tire? The laughter on a roller coaster ride? Our oldest child is 9, and we've had the realization that she's halfway through her time at home (if she leaves at 18). These days are precious and fleeting. Vacations do come at a cost. But the memories of the experience will be imprinted on us and our children for decades. We pass on to our children an appreciation for rest, an awe of created beauty, and a delight in each other's company (even after 24 total hours of driving).
Now back to work . . .
Vacations are good, and I hope you get to take one this summer. It doesn't have to be anything spectacular. In fact, it's better if it's not. I am recently off a vacation with my folks in Minnesota. What did I do?
Here's a great post on solitude.