The management of our own time is probably something most people never feel fully satisfied with. In a society that pushes for greater efficiency and immediacy I regularly know the sense of I should be doing “something better”. When I rest I hear the voice of “you should be working” and when I work I often feel the tiredness in my body that comes from not resting well.
Part of this will definitely come from the practical side of how I do balance my life, but I there is a huge part that comes from my own understanding of what work is and what rest is.
Even before the fall in Genesis we see God’s intention for work. Immediately we see the rhythm of 6 days work and one day rest in creation, this flies in the face of 24/7 culture. Also God put man to work in the garden before the fall.
Work is good.
The toil of work is as a result of the fall, but ultimately that toil should be put in the perspective of work intrinsically having worth. The work you do, either for your studies or for money, has worth and is not just toil.
God’s design in rest is for it to be a day given over to God. There are lots of different interpretations of what we mean by Sabbath rest. But I think it’s clear from how Jesus deals with the Pharisees it doesn’t mean sitting on your backside all day watching sport (note to self).
Flowing from a deeper understanding of work and rest comes the practicalities of how to manage the two in Durham as a student. There are a million and one opportunities as a student, everyone from the Chess Society, Hulahooping Society and the Origami Society could suck your life away. But more realistically you’ll have to walk the line of how much Christian activities do you do in a week, how much time do you give over to studying, how much do you hang out with your mates, how many sports teams are involved with. It can feel overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be.
Don’t do a Christian Activity Every Night
There is the opportunity to be at one of a prayer evening, Alpha, cell group, CU activity every night in the week in Durham. With churches, CU, Just Love and others Durham is saturated (in a good way) with Christian groups. Don’t get yourself into a Christian bubble. As a student at Kings commit to the church, come regularly on a Sunday, get stuck into a cell group and serve on a team. CU and Just Love are both great, we love them both lots, but your number one priority should be the local church.
Worship God in your Academic Studies
University isn’t just an opportunity to have fun, parties, play sport & make friends. You are here to study. But as we’ve seen in Genesis work isn’t just something that has come into the world as a punishment for sin, but God has designed us to work. Give your all to your studies, seek God in them, see what you can learn about God as you study Maths, Anthropology, English Literature. What do these academic pursuits teach you about our creative, generous, intricate God? Out of this worship others on your courses will see that God is not a tag on to your life on Sundays but he influences your every day. Ultimately everything you do should point others to God.
Where you get rest, where you get your energy from will differ. But commit time to God as part of your rest. That will look different for different ones of you, but do spend time in the Bible, praying for friends, family, situations around the world. You might want to use the KCD Bible Reading Plan to help you with that. Also spend time with your mates as you rest, hang out, watch sport or Bake Off. Do ensure that in your weeks rest isn’t an optional tag on, it’s good for you physically and mentally, and God commands us to do it.
Have Christian & non-Christian friends
As I mentioned earlier it is so easy to do Christian things all the time in Durham. Doing that will ensure you only have Christian friends. Don’t be Amish. Get involved in sports team or a society, actually spend time with your mates at those beyond the meetings or matches. And please don’t treat your non-Christian friends as evangelism projects, they are your friends regardless of their relationship with God. One of the saddest things I’ve seen over many years in Durham is that when students from Kings graduate they are far, far more likely to stay in touch with their Christian friends than their non-Christian friends. Buck the trend.
I’m not going to write you a hour by hour schedule for how to manage your life, that’s your job, but live deeply what God has designed you to do. He wants you to work, he expects you rest. Do both well.