From The Rectory

Just recently I have been thinking a lot about work life balance.  It often feels that there are not enough hours in the day to keep on top of ministry, let alone squeezing in the family and periods of rest and relaxation!

As I talk to people around the parish I gather that I’m not alone.  Those in the working world seem to be under pressure to work longer hours, whilst those who have made it to retirement frequently comment on how they don’t know how they ever had the time to work in the first place.

For me, part of the problem is about prioritising!  There will always be demands on our time and energies, so we need to discern what is important.  Let me share a story from Simon Guillebaud.   

A boat docked in a tiny Thai village.  An American tourist complimented the Thai fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked him how long it took to catch them.  “Not very long”, answered the Thai.

“Why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?”  asked the American.

The fisherman explained that the small catch was enough to meet his needs and those of his family.

Puzzled the American probed further, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

“I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children and take a siesta with my wife.  In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, play the guitar and sing a few songs, I have a full and happy life.”

The American did not agree with the fisherman’s assessment but volunteered his help. “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you!  You should start by fishing longer every day.  You can then see the extra fish you catch.  With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat.”  “And after that?” enquired the fisherman. 

“With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can expand to a fleet of boats.  Instead of selling to the middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants.  You can then leave this village and move to the capital!  From there you can direct your huge enterprise.”

“How long would all this take?”  Asked the fisherman.

“Twenty, maybe twenty-five years” replied the American.  “And after that?”

“After that?  Well you can start buying and selling stocks and shares and make millions!”

“Millions, really?”  “And after that?”

“After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village by the coast, sleep late, fish a little, play with your children and take a siesta with your wife and enjoy evenings with your friends.” 

As the author of Ecclesiastes wrote:  There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: (Ecclesiastes 3 v1)

How often do we miss the season, or forget to enjoy it because we are too busy worrying or working towards the next?   This is not a call to laziness, but rather to contentedness, enjoying the good things God has given, rather than longing to keep up with the Jones’.


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