Christian Living

Spiritual Life

General Bible Courses > Living by the Book > Career by the Book

Chapter 13: Leisure and Non-Work Activities


IN THIS CHAPTER, you will discover:

·   The root problem of busyness and boredom.

·   The parallel between your life and a pentathlon.  

AS A RESULT, you will be able to:

·   Maintain a balance between your work and leisure.

·   Apply biblical principles to life's five main areas.

Leisure and Non-Work Activities

Key Scripture: "In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat - for he grants sleep to those he loves" (Ps. 127:2).

The world suffers from chronic busyness - millions of workers running in the fast lane with no time to concentrate or contemplate. In addition to these workaholics, there is another group of workers, too bored to care about anything. They are not totally idle in their thinking, however. These workers contemplate the weekend when they can finally get away from work. They meander through an unmotivated life from one day to the next - unseeing and uncaring.

Boredom seems to be the opposite of busyness. But in reality, both are symptoms of the same problem - a life totally out of perspective. Careerists, afraid of unstructured time, look to their jobs for a definition of life. They have forgotten the source of meaning for their work. Bored workers have also forgotten that work really matters to God, looking instead to leisure time for life's meaning and purpose.

A Proper View of Leisure

Only God can give purpose to your work and life. In fact, He has given you certain abilities, interests, motivations, and aspirations to help you discover and implement your purpose. Moreover, He has individually designed the varied responsibilities and opportunities that come your way. As you fulfill your design, God continues to work out His purposes through you. Not only does He help you complete your work, but He also gives you a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction and well-being.

But the work that God gives must be balanced with a time of rest. As you partake of His promises and provision (Matt. 11:28-30), you will receive rest in your spirit. When you reach the place of resting in the Lord, you will be able to trust Him for the results of your work as well as enjoy other areas of your life.

The Pentathlon

Each area of your life is important to God - so important that He has given you guidelines for living life to the fullest. The biblical view of life is a holistic, comprehensive one encompassing five important areas: personal, family, work, church, and community. Doug Sherman compares these five areas to the pentathlon, which consists of five very diverse sporting events. To do well in the pentathlon, an athlete must excel in all five events. If one activity receives too much training time, proficiency may be lost in one or more of the others. And so it is in the game of life. You must seek to excel in all five of these important areas to ensure a balanced life.

A Proper Perspective of Work

Maintaining a balanced life requires that you keep each area in its proper perspective, especially the area of work. Work, like nature, seems to abhor a vacuum. Time that is not used for some other area is quickly consumed by work. Only the Holy Spirit can help you keep work in its proper place. Your part is to hear His voice and follow His guidance. Some suggestions to help you:

  • Maintain a Sabbath.
  • Set a come-home time.
  • Guard your use of emotional energy.
  • Determine how much time you must spend at work.
  • Cultivate interests and commitments outside of work.
  • Schedule non-work areas just as you would work areas.
  • Organize your prayer life around the five areas of life.

To further aid you in balancing your life, Doug Sherman offers the excellent acrostic A-P-P-L-Y. Each of these steps will be studied in depth.

Analyze the Scriptures

Personal Inventory

Plan Steps



Analyze the Scriptures. As you obey biblical instruction in the five areas of life, you will be able to:

Personal Life

  • Cultivate an intimate relationship with Jesus (Phil. 3:8-10).
  • Have regular fellowship with other Christians (Heb. 10:24-25).
  • Exercise self-control and discipline (1 Cor. 9:25-27).
  • Get adequate rest and leisure (Ps. 127:2).

Family Life

  • Be a servant to each member of your family (Mark 10:45).
  • Provide a loving environment for your children (Col. 3:21).
  • Honor your parents (Eph. 6:2-3).
  • Manifest an intimate union with your spouse (Mark 10:7-8).

Work Life

  • Recognize your work as a gift from God (Eccl. 3:12-13).
  • Share the gospel with your coworkers (Mark 16:15).
  • Maintain a healthy balance of work and leisure (Eccl. 4:5-6).
  • Submit to your authorities with a good attitude (1 Peter 2:18).

Church Life

  • Use your spiritual gifts (Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Cor. 12:8-10).
  • Encourage and build up other Christians (1 Thess. 5:11).
  • Financially support those in the ministry (1 Cor. 9:14).
  • Enjoy regular fellowship and Bible study (Acts 2:42).

Community Life

  • See yourself as a servant to non-Christians (Gal. 6:10).
  • Pursue the moral health of your culture (Matt. 5:16).
  • Preserve and protect God's creation (Gen. 2:15).
  • Be able to explain why you are a Christian (1 Peter 3:15).

Personal Inventory. The following inventory will help you assess some specific habit patterns in your life. Answer the questions honestly (not as you would wish them to be), considering your lifestyle over the last two months.

Personal Life

  • Do you have a daily time of reading the Bible?
  • Do you meet regularly with a Bible study or small group?
  • Do you have a daily time of quality prayer?
  • Do you regularly meet with a friend socially?
  • Do you plan periods of rest and recreation on a weekly, monthly, and annual basis?
  • Do you regularly express and discuss your emotions with your spouse and/or a close friend?

Family Life

  • Do you and your spouse "date" regularly?
  • Do you have regular family devotions?
  • Do you regularly talk with your spouse about personal concerns?
  • Do you budget your family finances?
  • Do you and your spouse have a weekly time of planning?
  • Do you spend time with each of your children daily?

Work Life

  • Do you regularly plan your day and set priorities?
  • Can you give a clear presentation of the gospel?
  • Do you stay current with developments in your field?
  • Is there any area of ethical compromise at work?
  • Do you tend to work too many hours?
  • Do problems at work cause you frustration and anger?

Church Life

  • Do you know what your spiritual gifts are?
  • Are you challenged spiritually?
  • Do you know how to disciple others?
  • Do you practice hospitality with Christians in need?
  • Are you held accountable in reaching personal goals?
  • Do you have some contact with missionaries?

Community Life

  • Do you have any close non-Christian friends?
  • Do you know your neighbors?
  • Are you involved in any community service projects?
  • Are you giving money to feed the poor?
  • Are you aware of the political issues in your area?
  • Have you shared the gospel with someone in the last six months?

Plan Steps. Without plans, you will have neither purpose nor growth. Therefore, in order to be more Christlike, set your goals and faithfully follow through with them. Remember that every goal must be specific, measurable, achievable, and compatible with the other areas of your life. Some sample goals are:

Personal Life

  • Read the Bible fifteen minutes a day, five days a week.
  • Pray through my prayer list daily.
  • Date my spouse weekly.
  • Meet with others for fellowship weekly.
  • Attend worship service weekly.

Family Life

  • Pray as a family daily.
  • Talk with my spouse daily.
  • Help my children with their homework regularly.
  • Daily encourage each family member.
  • Devote Saturdays to family fun and togetherness.

Work Life

  • Invite ________ over for dinner by _______ (date).
  • Pray for __________, __________, and __________ weekly.
  • Read one professional article weekly or a book monthly.
  • Discipline myself to leave work by _____ daily.
  • Review my job description monthly, evaluating my performance and making changes where needed.

Church Life

  • Teach a Sunday School class.
  • Give appreciation weekly to the church leadership.
  • Give $ _____ to Christian organizations.
  • Write a letter each month as a family to a missionary family.
  • Ask my pastors each month how I can pray for them.

Community Life

  • Pray for government officials weekly.
  • Learn how to share the gospel by attending a training class.
  • Socialize with one non-Christian couple each month.
  • Visit a nursing home each month as a family.
  • Join the ___________ club in order to develop relationships with non-Christians by _____ (date).

Looking over the goals listed above, you could easily become overwhelmed. To assure your success in meeting your own goals, begin with a few simple ones. Remember these key words: specific, measurable, achievable, and compatible.

Liable. Accountability offers several benefits. It encourages discipline and follow-through, builds deep, lasting relationships, and enables you to live with the freedom to fail. It is to your advantage to become accountable to someone else for your performance. Small groups are an excellent way to maintain accountability. They offer a valuable resource for making wise decisions and solving problems creatively and courageously. A group can also act as a stabilizing factor in your life.

Yardstick. Since evaluation is an integral part of every project, you will now need to evaluate your progress in the five life areas. One tool for effectively tracking your goals is a checklist. Write five goals for the following week on a 3 x 5 card. As you accomplish each goal, simply check it off.

Another easy way to evaluate your development is through a journal. You may organize it around the five areas of the pentathlon. Each day begin a new page with these three questions:

  • What progress did I make yesterday toward Christlikeness?
  • What can I do today to become more like Christ?
  • What am I learning about God?

An excellent way to check your progress periodically is by breaking away from your normal routine and going on a retreat. Structure your retreat to give appropriate time to three specific areas: evaluation of the recent past, evaluation of your current status, and prayer. As a result, you will return from your retreat with a sense of renewal, hope, and a totally new perspective. 


Test your knowledge on this chapter by taking the quiz at the end of chapter 16.

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Quiz Instructions

Please see the Review Questions at the end of Chapter 16.

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