Busy busy busy. Whatever your profession or stage of life, we’ve all apparently learned to fill our lives to the brim with activity. Perhaps its demanded by our work, or perhaps we choose it from an obsession with productivity. We also know instinctively that this hectic living does little good for us. Time for precious rest and reflection is scant if even existent.
Youth leaders know these pressures well. 2020 commitments are already piling up, and is there even time to reflect on what happened in 2019? Being a pastoral figure takes an emotional, spiritual toll, but your sustenance and support is lacking. After all, youth workers often work alone. You’d love to dream big dreams for young people, but dreaming can feel impractical when there’s just so much to do.
We want to be active and ambitious with our lives, but we can’t live with overwhelming chaos. We want to reflect on all that’s happening, whilst still making things happen. Can peace and productivity coexist?
Sounds like a planner
Youthscape have made something that we hope can help you. It’s a diary planner that’s both strategic and contemplative. If you’re a visionary who loves to dream, there’s abundant space and guidance for that. Places to articulate, think and pray through your vision, chances to reflect on key cultural issues facing young people, and letters written to encourage you in your journey. If your heart’s full of dreams but your head’s overwhelmed with clashing commitments, maybe The Gameplan’s more practical content can help…
For lovers of logistics, an undated planner for your months and weeks can help keep your life together, while more creative sections can help you think bigger than you might have previously allowed yourself to do. Journals and life-planners are popular these days, but there’s a danger that we just use them as a ‘life-hack’ that can make us get more stuff done. The point here is not to fill a calendar with activity, but to build rhythms of reflection into your activity.
A new rhythm
The ethos of ancient, contemplative prayers like the Ignatian Examen is built into the Gameplan. The Examen begins with self-awareness, stopping to notice what’s happening around you and within you: where are you emotionally, spiritually? Every week in The Gameplan you’ll get to check in with where you’re at, thinking about how you feel and why. You’ll get to reflect on what you learned last week, and consider what you’ll take into the next week. It’s a simple activity grounded in the simple idea that we don’t slow down enough to see what’s happening in our lives. You can be extremely busy with religious activity yet far from God and far from yourself. You forget why you do the things you do, and growing ever-busier, you can find yourself on the path to exhaustion or burnout.
That might sound heavy, but it’s a serious problem in and outside of the Church. In 1 Kings 19, a successful but scared and exhausted Elijah contemplates death as an exit strategy. God gives him rest, sustenance and an awesome mountaintop encounter before sending him back into the world, this time to meet a friend, his protégé Elisha.
No one can go it alone, but youth leaders can often feel isolated or ignored. We hope the ‘Dear youth leader…’ letters in The Gameplan will encourage you; written by other youth workers and church leaders (and a comedian) they’ll remind you you’re not in this work alone, that your work has profound value, and they’ll offer wisdom for the journey ahead.
You might like to think of The Gameplan as a map. The map can’t tell you exactly what to do, and it can’t complete the journey for you. But it can be a trusty guide, a tool to help you keep your bearings and get to where you want to be.
Less chaos, more calm; a life full of purpose and ambition, but sustained with reflective wisdom? Sounds like a plan…
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