Thursday, October 25, 2012

Finding Rhythm - Creating Disciplines for Being Productive

I'm a drummer, so I value having a steady rhythm, both in music and in life. Moving to a new country has disrupted that rhythm for me, so I'm working on getting back to creating a new normal. I don't think of myself as a particularly disciplined person, but I have sought to find daily and weekly rhythms for my life that seem to work for my own demeanor and work ethic.

I prefer "rhythm" to words like "schedules." Rhythm implies movement, with swells and pauses and crescendos and grace notes, both dynamic and steady.

Here's what I've found: some times of the day are better for certain activities. Here is how I've found some rhythm in my week of life and ministry:

Study, Preparation, and Reading. I do my best sermon preparation and studying in the mornings, before lunchtime. Even from an early age, my brain couldn't concentrate on reading or writing in the afternoons. In college, I'd try to get my homework done after class around 2:00 PM, which nearly always turned into an impromptu nap on the couch in my dorm. I now attempt to block out two mornings a week just for studying Scripture, sermon prep, thinking, praying, and dreaming.

Meeting with People. Unless coffee is involved, my best times to hang out and connect with people is lunchtime and the afternoon. I've probably spent the morning on tasks, and as a mild extravert, I'm inclined to want to spend the rest of my day sharing life with others. I'll also devote entire days to meetings, like a marathon of listening and sharing with others.

Emails. Reading and responding to emails is like a commercial break between the other important moments in my day. In between meetings or meals, I'll jump to my email and check it, try to respond to anything I can right away so I don't forget, or make a note that I need to respond at a later time. This might be the most undisciplined or unhealthy part of my rhythms, but this is just where I'm at.

Writing. My best writing is done either very early in the morning or late at night. Blog posts, articles, and books have all been created in these hours just before and after sleep.

Alone with God. Whenever I'm driving in my car by myself, I try to not listen to music or the radio. The space in my car is a quiet time of prayer between myself and the Lord. When I begin riding my bicycle more as my commuting vehicle, it'll be a time of prayer and contemplation as I ride through the lush beauty of British Columbia (praying that a wayward driver doesn't hit me!).

Rest. Times of rest and being fully present with my family requires the most discipline for me. I'm sure I'm not alone in this. Allowing my day off to truly be my day off is so hard when there's an upcoming event or a seemingly urgent ministry crisis. It's about finding margin in my daily and weekly rhythms, allowing the Spirit to refresh and heal and strengthen and guide.

Listening to Jesus. In every aspect of my life, I strive to have a posture of prayer, listening for the voice of Jesus as He moves and guides. He is the constant, the driving tone saturating the music of my life.

Question: These are just my own personal habits. What works best for your daily/weekly rhythm? Share in the comments!

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