Putting the Game on Pause
I will never forget my first electronic gaming system purchase. It was 1989 when I plunked down my $149 plus tax and purchased what was, at the time, the holy grail of gaming systems – the Nintendo NES. I only had three games, Super Mario Brothers, Duck Hunt, and arguably the worst game ever to hit a personal gaming console, Contra (but that didn’t matter). My wife and I jumped in and started playing Mario Brothers, for hours. And hours. And hours, determined to get to level eight and save the Princess from the evil 8-bit Bowser. It was addicting figuring out all the shortcuts and cheats, as we tried to level up to victory. It was not uncommon to play way into the night. Hey, we didn’t have kids or any real responsibility, and caffeine would help us stay awake at work the following day, so, no problem.
We can have a similar approach to being a tech worker – especially in church. Most of us that become techs have a curiosity and drive to figure things out. It may have started in the church we currently serve or when we were eleven – taking apart the family toaster. Either way, we tend to be somewhat obsessed with what we do, and when you throw in that we get to do it for God and the church; it’s irresistible and addicting. It is easy to get on the road to being an “expert” when you love what you are doing. And that is a good thing, because becoming a great tech takes thousands of hours, even if you only focus on one discipline. Whitney George has stated, “It is arrogant to think you can do in your spare time what others have devoted their lives to.” It takes time and dedication to be good at something. Being good at what we do with tech in the church is our service to the Lord.
Let’s face it, we love being techs, and herein lies the potential problem. It is so easy to become obsessed with our tasks, because the weekend shows up every seven days. Not to mention all other events, rehearsals, and meetings we have to be in and at as we serve the local church. We can develop very bad time management habits. This can not only affect us, but also the people we care about and even our relationship with God. We are often reluctant to take time off because we have an inaccurate view of what is going on.
So how does “pushing the pause button” help us, rather than potentially put us behind the eight ball? Hey, they put a “pause button” in the game for a reason, so lets look at some ways to unplug and refresh:
- Take a Sabbath. When serving in church, it is sometimes hard to treat Sunday morning as your Sabbath. So take another day out of the week to not do tech work and rest.
- Be in the Word and Pray. Daily Audio Bible and YouVersion have great versions of the Bible in a year. Hearing God’s voice through the Bible and prayer always rejuvenates.
- Have a hobby that is not tech. Most techs say they have a hobby which is, well, “tech”. If you are a tech this is a cop out, so find a hobby that you enjoy as far away from tech as you can. Playing music, being a guitar Luthier, or a photographer is permissible even though they have technical connections.
- Have a schedule and try to stick to it. This one is hard because there is always a last minute project, rehearsal, or funeral. Try to stick to your schedule as much as possible. If your schedule says you are leaving at 5pm leave at 5pm. Ask the question, “Can I finish this tomorrow?” If so, do it.
- Ask someone to keep you accountable. Find someone that cares about you and ask them to check in each week if you are keeping as close to your schedule as possible. This, to be honest, is a pain. But it will keep you from drifting back into bad habits.
- Take vacations. No matter if you are volunteer or paid staff, take vacation time away from the church tech world. Although we love it, life is not just about tech (there, I said it).
- Turn off your connections. It is easy in this 24/7-connected world to always feel like we need to check our social media and email every waking hour. Studies have shown that constantly checking our social media/email can actually cause our stress levels to run at a much higher level than normal. It’s okay to not check your phone every five minutes when you are on a date or with your kids at the fair. In fact, it will make those you are with feel more valued.
- Give it away. Don’t be a one-man band. Raise up others to do what you do and then let them, without you there. This will accomplish a couple of things; it shows that you trust them and lets you actually have some time off.
- Consistently evaluate. Constantly check your work/holistic tendencies. It is easy to slip back into bad habits.
These steps not only help us get refreshed, they also help us get perspective. I can’t tell you the number of times that a solution to a problem has come to me when I am away from that problem.
It’s never too late to start, but it will be difficult. We are creatures of habit; so changing how we schedule our lives can be harder than you might think. But it is totally worth it. I guarantee you will live a better life and be a better tech if you learn to push the “pause button”.