Tomorrow, I am going to work. It will not be work involving a computer, cell phone, desk, pencil, book, or any sort of high tech toy. It will not involve counseling or writing sermons or blogs or books.
Tomorrow, I will, as I have done in the past four weeks, take part of my Friday to perform manual labor.
Since discovering I like to hunt, several members have invited me to their ranches to enjoy the sport. I have taken them up in their offer, and in each place, I have taken the time to put in several hours of manual labor.
At one ranch, I planted a clover patch to improve the hunting.
At another, I have cleared out right aways and fence lines.
At another, I am putting up a feeder to attract hogs for removal.
Last week, as I was cutting Yupon and chopping down small cedar trees, I began thinking, "Why? Why am I doing this?" No one is expecting me to put in this work. No one is telling me I have to do this in order to enjoy hunting on their property. Most of the folks are content to just allow me to hunt without having to expend any physical labor or cash on my part. So why do I feel the need to jump in there and work?
As I examined my motivations, there were a few that popped up. I will begin with perhaps the most selfish:
1. I need some time for manual labor during the week. I have found that I think more clearly after taking the time to truly work my muscles. I need to chop weeds with a hoe, wield an ax, or cut with clippers. I need to use up the accumulated cortisol within my body which is produced when dealing with anxious situations. As sweat pours down my face, I know it is removing toxins and allowing my body to purify itself. When you work at a desk and sit visiting people throughout the week, your body doesn't do much of this work. And it needs it.
2. I am expressing my gratitude to those who are letting me hunt. Throughout my years of seminary training and in meeting with mentors and other experts, I have been told repeatedly that it is important for pastors to have a hobby outside of their church. I really didn't have much of one. Sure, I involved myself with playing computer games for a number of years, but I wasn't a serious gamer. As I have aged, I no longer can lose myself in playing those games either. I needed something else. Going through burnout brought that need further to the surface, and I do not think it a coincidence that I was invited to start hunting as I was reaching that critical point. My congregation members who are letting me hunt probably have no idea just how therapeutic it has been and how healing it has been for both my body, mind and soul. I am truly grateful for this opportunity, and I want to express it by hopefully improving their places.
3. That is a perfect segue into the final reason I believe I am working. There is something within me that drives me to improve things; not only things that belong to me, but especially things that belong to someone else. When I was growing up, my parents repeatedly told me, "If you borrow something, try to return it in better condition than when you received it." That is sometimes awful hard. I was once loaned a Jeep in mint condition. Of course I washed it and cleaned it before returning it, but the only thing I could think of to improve it was to leave a six pack of Shiner Bock in the back seat!!! Sometimes, you've got to be creative. Sometimes, you've just got to use some muscle. As I work, I enjoy seeing a difference being made. I enjoy seeing plants sprout up. I enjoy seeing clear fence lines. I enjoy seeing clear right of ways. I enjoy seeing a ranch owner pleased that the pigs that were tearing up his property are getting removed. I do not have a lot of financial means to help neighbors improve their property, but at this stage of my life, I do have energy and some muscle left. It pleases me to use it to help my neighbor.
As I sweat tomorrow, I will no doubt think about what I am doing and why. I just hope that those who are allowing me to work realize the blessing it is to me to be able to do such things.