Being a newlywed, I am often asked; “How’s married life?” I am known to be sarcastic at times and I normally can find a cleaver retort for each time I am asked, but here recently I have been increasingly more honest with my reply. Now, I say; “Expensive.”
Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m not complaining or whining or seeking sympathy when I say that. I do not at all regret the decision and I knew what I was signing up for when I made my vows. I love my wife and I would not have it any other way.
And I am not stating it is a problem that married life is expensive. For, honestly, the majority of the expensive I have incurred since becoming married were due to my own neglect that my wife refuses to tolerate any longer. Things like maintaining my house as a home-owner—things I should have already been doing but just never made time to do.
I actually do have a point in bringing this up. Being that married life is seemingly more expensive, over the past year I have been thinking about, and trying to develop, different ways to generate other sources of income. So I’ve asked myself multiples times; “What other skills do I have that I can capitalize on?”
As such I have been trying to establish and develop different skills with the hopes of creating a side business. Things like music and teaching and programming and writing and buildings things out of wood. The problem is that I already did not have a whole lot of free time and the free time I did find started to be monopolized by this driving thought of monetizing different skills.
One day, my wife had enough of my obsession and asked me why I spend so much time on a hobby. I responded; “I don’t have time for hobbies.”
To me, these were not hobbies; they were potential streams of income. I couldn’t have such a lax approach to these, as would be the case with a hobby, else they would never develop to the point they needed to be for me to monetize them. But her question struck a chord within me. Even though I was quick to answer, and I fully supported the claim I made in response, I suddenly questioned by entire pursuit.
This was initiated by the leadership of the Holy Spirit. He began questioning my intentions and the successes I’ve already known in life. And the result was very interesting. I did not set out to become an engineer or follow a specific plan to become one. Rather, something I naturally enjoyed I pursued until I got to a point where I could step into a role where it became my vocation. I did not pick up the bass guitar with the intention of being good enough to monetize on the skill. Rather, it was a passion of mine, and a calling on my life, that I pursued and developed over time until I was good enough for people to start offering me money to play. And I believe that is exactly the way it is supposed to be.
Now, at this point some people would made a statement about goal-setting and that if we don’t ever have a goal with a specific end result, we will never make reach that end result. And that is a true statement. But, as I have often heard, if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans. I think goals and planning have a place, and indeed I have long term and short term goals written down and revisited on a regular basis. But I also put my faith in a God who holds the entirety of my life in His hands. Just as I would look up a data sheet on a field instrument before I include it in my control panel design, I should consult my designer to better understand my purpose and function.
If a toaster wanted to become a microwave, how successful do you think it would be? And if you owned that toaster that stopped operating as a toaster in hopes of becoming a microwave, would that toaster be useful to you any longer?
Perhaps the reason we do not get opportunities in the hobbies and passions we pursue is because we are attempting to operate in a function other than for what we were designed.
I had the opportunity to preach at my previous church once before. A couple years later, I asked my pastor when he was going to let me preach again. He answered my question with a Bible verse. He quoted Proverbs 18:16, which says; “A man’s gift makes room for him, And brings him before great men.” He said that if God has given me a gift, then I shouldn’t have to ask for opportunities to operate in it or push it on anyone or convince someone on behalf of my gift; the gift itself will make room for me. Basically, he was telling me that if I were good enough and ready, I wouldn’t ask him to let me peach, he would ask me.
This checked me pretty strongly, but I let the truth of the statement come in and resonant within my spirit man. Just as I don’t have to ask people for opportunities to play music anywhere (my gift draws people to me), the same should be true for any gift or calling. If I am a good enough teacher or writer or builder or whatever, I shouldn’t have to force it upon anyone. And I fully believe that if these opportunities are not presenting themselves to me in these avenues then I am not yet ready, for whatever reason, and should continue focusing on development and improvement.
There should be nothing wrong with having hobbies. I got to a point where I looked down on hobbies, as if they were beneath me. It’s as if I felt hobbies were for the unprofessional; like anything less than professional was a poor investment of my time. But every professional in every profession started somewhere. And I can’t have a negative attitude like that. Not only for myself but for anyone. How can I hope for anyone, myself included, to transition to professional if no effort is given out of fear of being unprofessional?
As a result, I think it is imperative to stay humble. I believe we should pursue our purpose first. If we don’t know our purpose, or are unsure, or maybe we have several passions, I think we should pursue our goals and ambitions in the form of hobbies, not based on what we hope to gain as a result, but just for the sake of our passion and self-improvement. I think in this process we will better understand which passions are our purpose and which should remain hobbies.
What if my writing is just for my own therapy? What if my building of different items is just for my own sense of self-accomplishment? I’d rob myself of the joy these passions were intended to produce in my life just because my focus and intention was wrong. So I will choose to pursue these passions, not for the sake of money, but for the sake of the passion itself, and trust that God will use them as He wills, for He is my source and I trust in Him.