As I approached my 40th birthday in 2015 I began to think through what I wanted and needed to focus on in the next season of my life. I wondered what were the themes of my life that I should give myself to and that in some way described who I was? It wasn’t quite so much tasks or goals, it was more personal, more essential to who I am. These weren’t quite areas of responsibility as much as they were the defining characteristics. I boiled it down to just four words.
I make a portion of my living through writing and have done so for a decade or more now. This involves writing for businesses and more significantly editing the writing of others. Writing, I’ve come to realise, is also the best way to unclog my brain, to process thoughts and make progress on areas of study. If I’m to grasp anything, sooner or later it involves me writing about it. This blog mostly fulfils that function. I’ve long harboured ambitions to write books of my own (that for a variety of reasons haven’t quite come to pass yet) and to accomplish that I have to write. My first word, then, is write.
To write well you have to read. Reading is central to learning, growing, understanding, knowing. Reading is pleasure, leisure and work. I love books, magazines, blogs, articles, words surround me everyday and my life is in so many ways shaped by words. Books have always been a huge part of my life, it is perfectly suited to the introverted side of me that likes nothing better than curling up on the sofa with a book. I love well crafted sentences, paragraphs, chapters, stories and tales. I crave invocations of hope, beauty and wonder. Reading informs me, delights me, transports me. My second word is read.
Writing & reading are good for my brain but not so much for the health of the rest of me. I’ve always enjoyed sport and being in shape, it keeps me sane, gives me energy and helps me think. After a long reluctant battle I have, like many of my peers, finally accepted that my international sporting career might not take off as once hoped. Given my occupation I spend a lot of time sitting down, I need a sport that I can do anywhere, any time. I enjoy being in forests, by lakes, on hills and through cities. I also want to enjoy my family, my wife, and the life God has given me for as long as possible and to the fullest extent. As long as God gives me health I want to look after this body, keep it in good shape and working reasonably well. I also need something that can be social but can be done on my own – running fits the bill nicely. I enjoy the challenge of running with others and beating my own times. Running is my third word.
Last but by no means least is leading. Leading is what I am called to do at home and in the church. Sometimes this leadership has been sought and sometimes it has found me. Some aspects of leadership are really just extensions of who I am but there many aspects of leadership that I need to work on, study, learn, develop and grow. Yet because the quality of my leadership determines so much of what I am involved in it is important that I invest time and energy at getting better at it – my wife, children and church will all be grateful if I do. Leading is my fourth and final word.
All of this, of course is submitted to the grace of God – the life I lead and have and enjoy is in His hands. He has given me it to steward for His glory, to help others know and be known by Him and to do good as far as I am able. If I’m to do that, then given the way God has made me then investing in these four things will I trust, pray and hope serve me and my God well.
What four words describe the key themes for you?