We recently had a Women's Conference at our church and I was asked to give a short talk about this subject. Several ladies who missed the conference have asked me to post my notes here. Sorry for the length but I hope you enjoy reading the post.
I Peter 4:11
If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
The general definition of hobby is - a diversion that occupies one's time and thoughts, usually pleasantly.
Speaking of yourself, what pastime, not including prayer and Bible Study, first comes to your mind when I say a pleasant diversion that occupies one’s time and thoughts?
Most of these answers are considered hobbies. I can almost consider myself an “expert” on hobbies. I have the fortune, or misfortune depending on the day I think about it, to have multitudinous hobbies (that means lots and lots). There are many times I wish there was just one hobby that I liked to do above all others so I could get rid of all the other “stuff” in my vast array of supplies to support those hobbies. Just so you understand the scope of what I am referring to when I say “hobbies”, here is a list of my hobbies, past and present. Jewelry making, basketry, quilting, oil painting, drawing, sculpture, wood-burning, murals, decorative painting, stained glass, doll making, knitting, crochet, embroidery, needlepoint, cross stitch, macramé, collage, gourd art, woodworking, carving, plaster casting, ceramics, airbrushing, furniture refinishing, home decorating, upholstery, sewing and I am sure without a doubt that I have left something out. Oh, also, notice I didn’t say anything about cooking!
For many years the pursuit of what I find to be pleasurable pastimes put a lot of doubt in my mind as to the importance of these hobbies in the whole scheme of things, particularly as a Christian who should be spending the majority of time trying to further God’s kingdom. How could I sit and sew, paint, or whatever when people all around me, even in my family, were lost? What good was anything I was doing to anyone or anything other than my own pleasure and the occasional extra income? Did I have any right to pursue these pastimes when they took so much of my time and thoughts? And why did I feel the need to do them in the first place?
I thought about these things off and on starting about 20 years or so ago. In the past 10 years I thought about it even more often and about 4 or so years ago it started to become a real burden on my heart. I had occasional thoughts of giving hobbies up all together, I wasn’t sure they were justifiable in the time spent but I also feared that I would not be able to give them up and also questioned why if God had given me the ability and easy knowledge of doing these things should I stop?
These are the conclusions I have drawn from a lot of searching, with help from other Christian women for whom I have a lot of respect and from studying and praying on my own. I hope they are helpful to you.
I do believe that God gives each of us certain inborn talents or abilities that we should, possibly must, use for him. I also believe that if we don’t use those abilities for him that we are falling short of his expectations for us. There are also learned abilities that come to us in life and they should be used also. I am fortunate to have an ability to learn things that require hand and eye coordination very easily, sometimes intuitively without someone showing me how.
I want to stop here for a moment to say a word aside about talents and assure you that all abilities are not given to all women. One definition of talent is the natural endowment or aptitude of a person. Because of these abilities, a person may have the faculty to excel in a given area. I mentioned earlier that cooking is not on my list of favorite pastimes. I can cook when needed but I am not very good at it. It is not a talent I have. But ask me to make a dress and you will look hard to find someone who can do any better. I have learned through experience how to make a better dress but God makes things easy for me to learn. God has a purpose for everyone and has given some talent to each person to accomplish that purpose. Find your true abilities and use them, please.
I Peter 4:11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
There are many ways we can use our pleasurable pastimes to glorify God, to help someone to see God, to be more open to accepting his call when it comes, or sometimes just to lift up the weary, even if it is for a moment in an otherwise burdensome day. I make a lot of things with the idea they will be sold but in reality I have given away more over the past 40 years of crafting than I have ever sold. There are few things as exciting as seeing someone’s face light up with the understanding that you took the time and thought to make something with your own hands and to give it to them for no reason other than to make them happy, if only for the moment. To see the look on a young mother’s face when you give her a beautiful blanket for her baby, to hear the joy in a lonely older person’s voice when they tell you how much it meant to them to receive a card in the mail that you made yourself. I love these times because I know I have done something with the abilities that God gave me and that I have managed to share his love through those actions. They may not be large in the grander scheme of things but I have learned that they are important and provide a way to share God, if I turn them in the right way. It can also become very addicting, seeing who you can surprise next!
Since I believe that God has given us our abilities, they should be used for his glorification and those abilities have led to the hobbies that we participate in, then there must be a way to glorify him with the hobby. We just have to find the way. That is the harder question, sometimes. Look at what you like to do the most and think of 5 ways you can glorify God doing it and use it for God’s glory.
I am sure it has come to someone’s mind “well yeah, that is easy for her to say. She has one grown child and only one grandchild. She has all the time in the world to pursue whatever she wants!” Some of you have small children at home, you have jobs, you have husbands and households to take care of, you have limited income and you have very little time each day for any pursuit of even the least time consuming hobby. You are sometimes nervous, anxious, depressed. Guess what, so is everyone. You can make time for things you feel are worth doing. You don’t have to have 3 hours everyday to sit down and make 30 greeting cards while everything else goes to seed. Spend a few minutes to do something small that can make up a larger project. I work everyday, I have a house to clean, meals to fix (when I have to), laundry, a dog, a husband, a daughter and son-in-law, a grandchild and the similar responsibilities. How have I managed to continue to pursue my hobbies? For ten years in the 70 and 80s I stayed home with Rachel and made dolls and such and sold them to shops. Having only one child doesn’t lessen the responsibility but it does make for a little more free time but most of my craft time was after she went to bed. I would stay up sewing. It was a time I could set aside for myself, not be concerned if the dishes where done or the laundry. It was an important time for me so I cut it out of a time meant for sleeping. When I went back into the outside work world in the mid 80s there was much less time for it but I would still make as much time as I could for hobbies, it was a stress reliever and important to me. I thought when I was older that I would have more free time for these kinds of things, but guess what, I have no more time for it now than I did when Rachel was small, probably less time because I no longer stay up at night, I am old and need my rest. I find my time by seldom being idle. If I am in front of the tv I have something in my hands. If we are traveling, I have something in my hands. If I am waiting at the doctor’s office I probably have something in my hands. I find such pastimes restful, refreshing and productive. I really like being able to work on something and listen to scripture at the same time.
What I am trying to say is, don’t wait until some time down the way to have a hobby because you don’t think you have time. A hobby can help relieve stress, produce needed income or items for your family, give you an opportunity to do a generous deed, show God’s grace to others, etc. A hobby doesn’t have to be a big huge expense or consumer of time. Do little things, do little things that you can use to glorify God. Use your hobby to accomplish necessary things, for instance make clothes for your kids, etc.
Here is an example list of hobbies and what can be done with them to glorify God.
1. Teach another woman how to do your hobby. It may give her an income, teach her to use her talents for God, possibly even make a difference in her everyday existence. It will certainly give her more confidence in all parts of her life. It can also open a door between you and a lost woman and possible help her to know God’s grace.
2. Make greeting cards and send them to shut-ins or for birthdays and anniversaries. Anything that opens a door for communication regarding God’s grace is worth doing.
3. Use your knowledge about your hobby to help with home schooling families. Give a class for a field trip or teach a skill. It can be difficult to find an outing for home schooling that is something different to do that doesn’t cost much. Something you think only you are interested in might also be interesting to a child.
4. Use your hobby online to draw people to God by having a blog or web site that links to the church website or other good sites where sermons and other helps can be found.
5. Use the time spent with a Christian sister working on a hobby to share and uplift her and yourself as well!
6. If your hobby is cooking you can cook for me every night and I will have time to do more stuff! Really, food taken to people in need is the hardest thing for me to do. I admire the person who does it often and joyfully.
7. Is your hobby reading? Read to an invalid or an older person who can’t see well any more. Help a child who has trouble reading.
8. Do you like to paint? Ask the Bible School or Sunday School teachers if there is something they need done for their class. Don’t worry if you don’t think you are Rembrant, no one is.
9. Do you like to sew? Ask for items from the elderly or single men or young families that need repair. Sew on some buttons, hem those pants or fix that zipper. Make a jumper or pjs. Sometimes all it takes is asking and you will find lots of ways to help.
10. Are children your hobby? Well, considering the size of some of our families I would think there would be a lot of appreciation for any help given there. Or have a summer backyard class or something like that.
11. Do you like taking pictures? Photographs are very expensive to have taken. Sometimes just a nice picture of the family is more than appreciated.
12. Do you like to memorize scripture? Work with children or adults to have a club or drill team.
13. Do you like to garden? Grow flowers and take little boquets to shut-ins new moms, or just someone needing to be uplifted. Help someone not able to garden around their yard or garden. Grow veggies and help someone who is needy by sharing what you harvest. Give them to the person who has a cooking talent and let them preserve the food for distribution.
You get the idea? Everything you do can be used for God’s glory.
We have all probably read or heard the passage regarding the virtuous women passage in the Bible. There are several ways to interpret the passage but one way it speaks to me is about some of the types of activities I like to pursue and gives an idea of ways those activities can be used in the daily life of a Godly woman:
• She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. (weaving) She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. (meals for the needy) She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.(cooking family meals) She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings(she works!) she plants a vineyard.(gardening) She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.(she is fit and productive) She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.(she works late to accomplish what is needed) In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.(spinning) She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.(hospitality) When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.(makes sure her family is provided for) She makes coverings for her bed; (upholstery) she is clothed in fine linen and purple. (she presents herself well) She makes linen garments (seamstress) and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.(business owner)
These are just the sections of the passage that talk about some of the activities I mentioned before. The rest of the passage speaks more to the spiritual side of the virtuous woman such as her relationship with her husband and other things. Don’t think that I am underplaying that side at all. It is most important. Don’t ever get so involved in the activity side that the spiritual side is neglected. Us your time wisely, listen to tapes, watch videos while you are pursuing your hobby. You would be surprised how much you can learn.
Be careful not to be fanatical about your hobby. It is after all, a diversion that occupies one’s time and thoughts. Keep it in perspective, use it to God’s glory. Enjoy it and use it in the right way.
And if you start a new hobby, call me. I might have some hoarded resources you will find useful!