The Importance of Hobbies

What is something that you enjoy doing and that helps you relax? Just because you move overseas or begin working among another people group, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a hobby. Whenever things got stressful, or even when they didn’t, my late husband found a way to build something. He was a carpenter at heart, just like Jesus, and nothing made him happier than losing himself in a piece of wood or a project.

When we first got married and lived in a small one-bedroom apartment in Texas, Raouf used the balcony as his woodshop. He built our entire bedroom suite (the first one) in that small space. It would not be the last balcony shop in our lives, but he’s also had them in basements and extra bathrooms too. Many a time, one of our wooden crates became the storage shed for his tools.

Hobbies help us to release built-up stress.

That’s why I never begrudged him his desire to build things. I knew it was the only thing he did for himself and that he needed it after spending hours with people. My hobbies were cross-stitch and reading—much less noisy than Raouf’s, but beneficial to me, nonetheless.

Hobbies can open doors to new relationships.

Whether it was shopping for fabric in the market or finding that next great source for wood, getting involved in our hobbies led us to places and people outside of our daily routines. If I heard Raouf talk about the Greatest Carpenter once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. Having a hobby so linked to Jesus opened many doors for witness with men who shared his love of wood and the craft.

As with everything in life, hobbies require discipline and balance.

While we shouldn’t feel guilty for having downtime to relax and enjoy our hobbies, we do need to be careful that they don’t eat our time. I know that just as I could lose myself in a good book, Raouf could forget the time in his workshop. Try to find the balance by setting a timer, so you’ll look up and be aware that it’s time to wrap things up and get back to family, ministry, or language study. Because most hobbies are usually done as an individual, we can become too isolationist if we allow them to consume our time.

Share your hobbies with those you serve.

I remember in one of the countries we served, Raouf taught several young men how to work with wood. They were intrigued by his ability to build things, so he gave carpentry lessons. Along with his sons, I think there are probably many men in the USA and the Middle East who are accomplished carpenters because of the time Raouf took with them. Perhaps you love to sew, knit, or crochet. Start a small sewing circle with local women or girls, so you can learn from each other. Many times, the local culture will have its own specialties related to crafting or sewing. It’s never too late to learn something new and give them a chance to teach you for a change. You’d be amazed at the doors it will open for relationship and witness.

Use your hobby as a gift-giving opportunity.

I have given many gifts from the items I’ve cross-stitched over the years. Whether it’s a Bible verse or a special picture, people are touched by hand-made gifts. Raouf graced many a home with a piece of his work, from furniture to specially designed crosses. Gifts that are hand-made remind the receiver that they were loved by someone who loved Jesus first.

Do you have a hobby? Ask the Lord how he can use it to help you find balance in your life and ministry, while also creating avenues for new relationships and witness.

Grace and Peace


3 thoughts on “The Importance of Hobbies

  1. Caroll, how did you learn the local language/ Did you begin learning the language before you left the U.S.? Did you have a local teacher? Did you listen to cassettes? When I worked with immigrants here, most of them had had English in school. It was mostly people from South American countries, Mexico, or Bosnia who had no English background.. Oddly enough, the women of the Middle East and their children were most fluent, not the men.

    1. Rebecca, I did start learning Arabic before I left for the field, because I was attending an Arabic-speaking church and we had classes. Then I had tutors in most of the places we lived and went to a formal language institute as well, so I’ve done it all! Yes, in many of the places we lived, schools had at least some English language taught, so many people can understand it better than speak or write.

    2. I’ve written several posts on language learning, if you go to my blog and type in language, several will pop up. Feel free to ask any questions!

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