I saw, in a recent on-line article on health and wellness, advice given on how to carve out down-time by looking at what is “weighing you down?” The individual is supposed to list everything on their schedule (except non-negotiables like going to work or to doctor’s appointments). The question then asked is “how do you feel at the end of the activity”? Then rate each activity within your control on a scale of 10 (10 being most enjoyable or rewarding). As expected the recommendation is to ditch activities that score in the lower numbers in order to give additional time in a crowded schedule. And keep the higher rated activities that give good feeling.
The problem that I see is not in making that kind of triage of our activities, but is in the values used to determine the number score. Is personal enjoyment our highest value as Christians? Should my decision making be solely based on how I feel? Are there not things that have value, that I need to do that I do not enjoy as much as things that have a higher enjoyment level but do not add depth and/or purpose?
I do not “enjoy” ( in any way we normally understand that word) crisis visiting in the ICU, or presence at calling hours at a funeral home. But these are things that have great value and meaning for people I care about. To bump these off the list because I get more enjoyment from going out for pizza or watching a new movie may give me more time but will alienate me from others, and stifle my effectiveness as a friend and fellow traveler in the mysteries of life.
Our decision making in this culture is already skewed by the inherent “I-centeredness”. I would hate to see people skew it even further by the value of “feel good”. Much of the emerging church model, I am convinced, is based on worship that ”feels good”, and that is entertaining. Who is at the center of that? Worship has that to which we ascribe ultimate worth and value at the center and in that scenario it seems to be “me” rather than God. To further decide that I will do that which feels good to me takes us further down that wrong road.
Let us make decisions about what we do and what we need to do but let us make the criteria more than how we feel. Let our criteria be based on how activities live out (in life-giving ways) what we value and want to see more of in our lives and in the world.